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Georgia’s next governor, Republican Nathan Deal (photo courtesy of the AJC)

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Nathan Deal led a historic Republican sweep of Georgia on Tuesday, soundly defeating Democrat Roy Barnes to become Georgia’s next governor.

Republicans seized historic gains to take control of the House on Tuesday, as voters upset with the economy, President Barack Obama and government dealt a strong blow to Democrats all over the country.

The GOP captured 239 seats and was leading for four more, while Democrats had won 183 and led for nine.

Democrats now control the House by a 255-178 margin, with two vacancies. All 435 seats were on the ballot.

“Across the country right now, we are witnessing a repudiation of Washington, a repudiation of big government, and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people,” said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, in line to become the next speaker.

According to the White House, Obama called Boehner to say he looked forward to working with him and the GOP “to find common ground, move the country forward and get things done for the American people.”

House Democrats defended their legislative record and campaign strategy and said they would try to compromise with the GOP.

“The outcome of the election does not diminish the work we have done for the American people,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, the first woman to hold the post. “We must all strive to find common ground to support the middle class, create jobs, reduce the deficit and move our nation forward.”

Nathan Deal’s victory consolidates the state’s political power in North Georgia for years to come: The governor-elect and the lieutenant governor are from Gainesville, and the House speaker is from Blue Ridge. All three are Republicans.

Barnes, appearing before his supporters at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, said: “I just talked to Congressman Deal and I wished him the best as the new governor.”

He quoted the Apostle Paul. “I have fought the good fight. I have run the good race. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith, and so have you.”

Barnes acknowledged early on Election Night that he had an uphill climb.

But some tough challenges await Deal. He has proposed a costly agenda that includes investing more in public education and cutting some state taxes to help boost the economy. But Georgia is now facing a projected budget shortfall for the next fiscal year that could reach $1.8 billion and make it difficult for Deal to deliver on his promises.

Deal also faces some substantial financial problems that came to light in recent months. In 2009, his daughter and son-in-law filed for bankruptcy because of the failed sporting goods business they started. Deal invested in that business and its failure left him with $2.1 million in debt, which he has pledged to pay off.

Read the full story here.

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