Former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal led a historic Republican election day sweep, as the GOP claimed all Georgia's statewide seats Tuesday night.
Deal, a former nine-term congressman from Gainesville, soundly defeated former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who was running to get his old job back after being ousted in 2002.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial returns showed Deal with 53 percent of the vote to Barnes' 43 percent. Libertarian John Monds pulled 4 percent of the vote.
"Tomorrow the work starts all over again," Deal told cheering supporters in an Atlanta hotel ballroom. "Up and down the ballot, Georgia has placed its faith in the Republican Party and we're not going to let them down."
The GOP claimed seats from lieutenant governor to attorney general to agriculture commissioner. And they picked up two Georgia congressional seats held by Democrats.
The win cemented Republican control in a state that not too long ago was ruled by Democrats.
Deal beat back questions throughout the campaign about his ethics and personal finances.
Barnes — who attacked Deal relentlessly throughout the campaign for using his congressional office for personal gain — said late Tuesday night he had wished his opponent the best in a concession call.
"I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul, one my favorite quotations. 'I have fought the good fight, I have run the good race, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith,'" Barnes said in a brief speech.
Deal, who will replace term-limited Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, was buoyed by a strong anti-Washington tide that energized GOP voters upset with President Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington.
Contributors: Charles Edwards