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Georgia's Deal resigning from Congress

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Rep. Nathan Deal announced Monday that he's resigning from Congress to concentrate on the Georgia governor's race.

"I firmly believe that now is the season for me to devote my full energies to the campaign for governor," Deal said in a statement.

Deal announced his resignation, effective next Monday, at a news conference in Gainesville.

Deal, who represents the mountainous 9th District in north Georgia, served in the Georgia Legislature as a Democrat and was elected to Congress in 1992. The 67-year-old Deal switched to the Republican Party in 1995.

"I believe the people of my district, like all Georgians, know that this is a time that demands leadership," Deal said. "These are critical days for Georgia and my experience at the local, state and national level have uniquely prepared me to lead Georgia as we lead the nation out of the recession."

There are six other Republicans and five Democrats in the race to replace Gov. Sonny Perdue, who by law cannot seek a third term.

Deal entered the governor's race last spring and said at the time his biggest challenge would be to boost his name recognition outside his district.

He's the second Republican to leave his government job to focus on the governor's race. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel left her post in December.

Deal's announcement also came on the heels of an announcement Saturday by U.S. Rep. John Linder. The Gwinnett County Republican said he will not seek re-election after serving 18 years in Congress.