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Economy To Be Key Issue In Ga. Governor's Race

Henson and Deal's Republican primary opponents noted Georgia has not fared as well on other rankings, including one by Forbes magazine that ranked Georgia 10th on its annual list of best states for businesses and careers. While receiving top marks for regulatory environment, Georgia did not fare as well on economic climate and quality of life measures.

"Georgia has lost 14 percent of its jobs paying more than $50,000 a year and added 15 percent to its Medicaid rolls during the recovery," said Michael Mule with the David Pennington campaign. "The wrong numbers are going up, and the right numbers are going down."

Deal is facing two challengers in next year's Republican primary, including Pennington and state schools Superintendent John Barge. Pennington, the mayor of Dalton, has been arguing Deal has not done enough to rebuild Georgia's economy since the recession and has been calling for a reduction in the state income tax.

Barge has also made the economy a focus of his campaign, arguing education is a vital component of economic development and has not been adequately funded.

"I certainly don't want to take anything away from Georgia being identified as the number one place to do business. However, my question would be, at what expense?" Barge said. "Our children? That is not a good trade-off for me."

Deal, meanwhile, cited estimates that 175,000 new private sector jobs have been created since he took office in January 2011. With him on Tuesday were executives from Home Depot, UPS and Gulfstream who praised Georgia's favorable business climate.

"What we are doing appears to be working," Deal said. "Every time that we have a new job it ought to lower our unemployment rate, and that's what we have to do, business by business, job by job, and that is what we're concentrating on."

___

Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Christina.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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