Georgia on her mind
Alaska governor attends Duluth rally for Chambliss

DULUTH - Cele Eifert put on her jersey from her son's hockey team and headed to the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Monday.

But the Peachtree City hockey mom's 45-minute drive was nothing compared to the distance the world's most famous hockey mom traveled to get to Georgia.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin dazzled a crowd of more than 6,000 in Duluth, at the last stop of statewide tour to rally votes for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who squares off with Democrat Jim Martin in a runoff today.

"She's a woman who knows her own mind," Eifert said of Palin. "She has the kind of values I respect."

Touting Chambliss with the same down-home disposition she used while campaigning with Sen. John McCain as his vice presidential nominee, Palin said today's vote could be the beginning of rebuilding the Grand Old Party after a dismal November for Republicans.

"I'll tell you, I've had Georgia on my mind, and I'm not the only one," Palin said. "We need checks and balances in Washington, D.C."

National interest has run high in the Georgia Senate runoff election because of the possibility that

Martin could provide a 60th vote for Democrats in the Senate. While a close Minnesota race is subject to a recount, the possibility of a supermajority to stop any filibusters has brought both money and political figures to Georgia.

In the past month, GOP presidential candidates, including McCain, have made stops across the state. And high-profile Democrats who have been on the Martin campaign trail include Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton.

At Monday's appearance, Palin called Chambliss a strong, independent spirit - a mantra repeated about McCain and herself throughout the 2008 presidential campaign. She praised his support of the war in Iraq and thanked Georgians for taking care of her son Track, who graduated from boot camp at Fort Benning less than a year ago.

While Chambliss was the focus of the rally, people chanted "Sarah" after Palin's speech and pushed through the crowd to get an autograph or a photo.

"It's history-making," Dallas resident Phyllis Gragg said after posing with a cardboard cut-out of the governor. "She's such a girl's girl."

And while people said they would vote for Chambliss today, more than a few were looking forward to voting for Palin in 2012.

"It was beyond belief," Buford resident Carolyn Buice said of Palin's appearance. "I don't think we've seen the last of her. ... I think she's a phenomenal politician, a phenomenal mom, and I would vote for her in a heartbeat."

Meanwhile, Martin continued a statewide tour Monday, ending with a rally in Atlanta with rapper Ludacris. He stopped at the Global Mall in Norcross on Sunday.

Jim Powell, a Democrat in a close Public Service Commission runoff, made Gwinnett one of his last campaign stops, with a rally at the Global Mall on Monday.

In addition to the Senate and Public Service Commission races, voters will also decide a Georgia Court of Appeals race in polls open throughout the state from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters in Norcross will also decide two council races - Jan McKinney vs. Andrew Hixson and Ross Kaul vs. Michelle Crofton.