Endgame: Handel concedes to Deal in Georgia gubernatorial runoff

Handel actually finished ahead of him in the primary three weeks ago, but not even having Palin on the trail for her could stop Deal from closing.

Here’s her statement forgoing a recount in the name of party unity, which is smart thinking given her future in the party. Out: Sarah Palin, Republican kingmaker. In: Mike Huckabee, Republican kingmaker?

I want to thank all of my friends, supporters, volunteers and my campaign team for a tremendous effort over the last 16 months. We ran a terrific campaign, beat the odds to come in first place in the Primary, and came so very close in the runoff election.

As of this morning, we are four tenths of a percentage point behind Nathan Deal with absentee ballots and overseas military votes yet to be counted.

We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount. But we are not going to do that.

The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes. Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.

Speaking of party unity, at least one disgruntled Handel fan is circulating this old story on Twitter this morning. Heh. Also, for the record, this wasn’t just a Huck/Palin proxy war: Romney backed Handel too while native Georgian Newt Gingrich has been supporting Deal for weeks. Exit question for Palinistas: Blame Mitt?