Undergraduate education: Mercer University
Graduate education: Mercer University
Nathan Deal was born in Millen, Ga., and now resides in Gainesville. He attended Mercer University where he earned a bachelor's in 1964 and a law degree in 1966.
Deal served a two-year Army tour as a captain in the Judge Advocates General Corps. After his 1968 discharge, Deal moved to Gainesville to practice law.
He was assistant district attorney for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit and served as judge of the Juvenile Court of Hall County. He was elected to the state Senate in 1980 and was elected president pro tempore of the Senate in 1991.
He was elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat in 1992, but switched political parties and became a Republican in 1995. He stepped down in 2010 to make a successful run for Georgia governor.
Deal and his wife, Sandra, have four children.
Nathan Deal is halfway through his first term as Georgia governor and has so far achieved tax cuts and an overhaul of the criminal justice system.
Deal pushed for new tax cuts in early 2012 to attract new employers to Georgia, which is still struggling from a high unemployment rate in the aftermath of the Great Recession. While lawmakers rejected some of those cuts, the Republican-dominated General Assembly agreed to cut the sales tax that manufacturers pay on the energy used to create their goods.
At Deal's urging, lawmakers also overhauled Georgia's criminal justice system for adults with a sweeping legal rewrite that is supposed to emphasize rehabilitation and treatment over the more expensive alternative, incarceration.
Deal faces a series of major decisions on how Georgia will implement the 2010 health care reform law backed by President Barack Obama. In August 2012, Deal said that Georgia could not afford to expand its Medicaid program, one of the key anchors of Obama's plan.
"I think that is something our state cannot afford," Deal told reporters gather in Tampa for the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Deal staged a political comeback when he won the Republican nomination for governor in an August 2010 primary runoff. Dogged by ethics allegations, the former congressman struggled to raise money and seemed like he would be lost in the seven-person GOP field.
Deal instead eked out a narrow win against former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who brought in ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to provide her campaign with a boost. Deal cast himself as the true conservative in the primary race and repeatedly questioned Handel's support for gay rights and abortion.
Deal has faced ethics allegations related to his meetings with state officials to preserve a lucrative arrangement that earned his Gainesville auto salvage company $1.5 million between 2004 and 2008.
An investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics concluded that Deal may have violated House rules, but Deal resigned from the House before the panel issued it's findings. He said he left to devote his full energies to his gubernatorial bid.
Deal's finances then became a flashpoint during the 2010 general election campaign when it emerged that he was on the hook for more than $2 million after his daughter and son-in-law declared bankruptcy. Deal and his wife, Sandra, had co-signed the loan for the Wilder Outdoors property in North Georgia. The sporting goods venture failed in 2009. When Carrie and Clint Wilder declared bankruptcy in 2010, the debt transferred to Deal.
Deal's general election opponent, Democrat Roy Barnes, said throughout the campaign that Deal could not be trusted to run the state's affairs when he had trouble managing his own. In the end, voters elected Deal.
Previously a Democrat, Deal switched parties in 1995 and became a Republican, continuing to win re-election easily.
He was a relatively quiet congressman, not known for any major original legislation or floor speeches, and he was a loyal Republican on most issues. Even before switching to the GOP, he voted with Republicans more often than not.
He has become known as a tough opponent of illegal immigration and in 2005 he sponsored legislation that would eliminate automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal immigrants.
Deal voted against the 2008 $700 billion financial industry bailout and opposed the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package. last vote he cast before leaving Congress was against the 2010 health care reform bill.
Deal hails from one of the more conservative districts in the country and it shows. He called on Obama in 2009 to produce his birth certificate, although Deal told The Associated Press recently that he was simply passing along concerns from his constituents and now believes the matter is settled.
Deal has advocated for eliminating the federal income tax in favor of a so-called fair tax.
He helped slash some $20 billion from the federal budget in 2005 as part of a deficit reduction effort. He was able to include language in the measure requiring those seeking Medicaid benefits to provide identification, a move designed to halt illegal immigrants from tapping the taxpayer-funded benefits.
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Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 53% (2010).
(Last updated by Ray Henry on September 12, 2012.)