Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel came from behind to finish first in Tuesday's primary race for state governor.
Handel, who was running behind two of her challengers, beat three other candidates after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's endorsement on July 12.
Former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal received 25 percent of the vote. Former state Sen. Eric Johnson had 19 percent of the vote, and state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine garnered 18 percent of the vote.
"Well, I think if you look at the fact that I'm not a career politician, I'm also a next-generation leader, and I believe Georgia is ready to move forward in a bold way in this 21st century and that we are going to go forward. We're not going to go back," Handel said during the final hours of Tuesday's heated contest.
"These are tough times," Deal said Tuesday. "And tough times require leaders who have a background of experience that can make the hard decisions."
Handel will face Deal in a runoff in three weeks.
Along with her endorsement of Handel, Palin has one of the best track records for any Republican leader. Deal was endorsed by former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The winner of the GOP runoff will face former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, who won his party's nomination for the governor's office on Tuesday.