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Candidates for governor spar in debate

ALPHARETTA -- Five of the leading Republican candidates for governor squared off in a debate Thursday night, sparring over their conservative credentials.

State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's came under fire from several GOP opponents who suggested insurance monopolies have sprung up under his watch, burdening consumers with high rates.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel said that rates will improve if you get ''a good solid business minded individual as your next insurance commissioner.''

State Rep. Austin Scott, of Tifton, said that some businesses haven't come to Georgia because of high insurance rates.

''I'm sure that will change with the next insurance commissioner,'' Scott, of Tifton, said.

But responding to a question about whether Georgians should be able to purchase health insurance across state lines, Oxendine said he has the consumer's back.

''One person, and that's John Oxendine, said we need to protect Georgia consumers,'' he said.

A discussion of taxes also provided some fireworks as all the candidates sought to showcase their fiscal conservative stripes.