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Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 4:21am

Deal Joins ATL Mayor To Lobby For Ports Cash

Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will be in Washington Wednesday to lobby for more funds to deepen Savannah's port. The bipartisan duo will meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

President Barack Obama's budget proposed $600,000 for pre-construction work on the project. That's far short of the $100 million port officials want to begin dredging the harbor next year.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson says the Republican Governor going with the Democratic Mayor will amplify the state's message.

"A Democrat who has Obama's interest at heart might be able to say, 'Hey, if you want to do well in Georgia, work with us on this project. Georgians will be very appreciative.' Obviously, that's not an argument that we can make."

The project enjoys near-universal support in Georgia political and business circles while some environmental groups voice opposision.

Last week, a group of them held a public forum on the issue, saying moneyed interests are ignoring concerns for the coastal ecosystem.