Barnes, Deal known for different personal styles

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ATLANTA --- In picking a new governor, voters are selecting this year from two major-party candidates whose personal styles are as divergent as their politics.

Republican Nathan Deal, universally described as courtly, has developed an approach to leadership that's very different from that of Democrat Roy Barnes, who is alternately called affable and imperious.

Though both men started their careers as prosecutors and spent years in the legislature before Deal went to Congress and Barnes was elected governor, the similarities stop there.

As governor, Barnes picked up the nickname King Roy because of his involvement in nearly every legislative issue and his ambitious legislative agenda. It wasn't just Republicans who called him that behind his back.

Barnes is bright and a workaholic who expects the same of others, observes ex-Congressman Buddy Darden, D-Ga., who has known Barnes since they were assistant district attorneys together in 1970.

"He's a very decisive type of person. He has never been known to suffer fools," Darden said.

Barnes also had a chief of staff, Bobby Kahn, who was just as driven, and his brusque manners reflected on Barnes.

"The combination of Bobby and Roy ... sometimes the two of them could rub people the wrong way," Darden admitted. "Roy Barnes, today, is a little more mellow."

Still, Barnes' legislative success as governor was almost perfect. Every bill -- including 27 his first year in office -- passed, and few received significant changes. Most also had considerable Republican support.

If he wins another term, he would likely rely more on his authority over state agencies, notes Daniel Franklin, a political science professor at Georgia State University.

Deal might also gravitate toward executive authority, Franklin predicts, if legislative leaders perceive him as weak or distracted.

"He's going to have some ethical and legal issues to deal with. It's going to be an administration under a little pressure because he's going to be defending himself," he said.

During Deal's 18 years in Congress, he rose to chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. In that role, he gained a reputation for openness and willingness to share credit, according to David Rosenfeld, who served as his health care counsel on the committee staff.

Where Barnes is decisive, Deal is known for being deliberative, unflappable and always courteous.

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