MACON, Ga. - Georgia Republicans voted Saturday to keep the coach who won every one of last year's statewide races.
Sue Everhart triumphed over Tricia Pridemore on the second ballot during the party's convention, 946-755.
Four candidates were nominated on the first ballot. Carter Kessler of Athens, who only got 26 votes, and Shawn Hanley of Fulton County, who got 265 votes, pulled out after the first ballot.
Feelings about the campaign have run so warm, that even Gov. Nathan Deal got booed when he mentioned it in his speech to the convention. Deal backed Pridemore, who was part of his campaign and co-chaired his transition.
When the boos from Everhart fans overwhelmed the cheers from Pridemore's he quickly wrapped up his comments.
"I will respect your judgment and work with whomever is elected," he said.
Sonny Perdue as governor also considered backing a candidate to replace Everhart but thought better of it after hearing from party members.
Everhart relied on her track record, which includes being at the helm when Republicans captured every constitutional office last year.
"You know our plan. You know our drill. We're ready to go to work on Monday morning," he said.
For many Pridemore supporters, the issue was the need to beef up the party's technology. Pridemore herself said Democrat President Barack Obama's use of technology and organization outshone the Georgia Republican Party.
"If we use the same playbook as we did in 2008, Obama will blow us out of the water," Pridemore said.
Richmond County GOP Chairman Dave Barbee put it in terms of the technology habits of a younger generation of voters.
"I can talk to my 18-year-old grandson, but I can't talk to his friends. That's what Tricia brings," he said.
The battle was particularly contentious in Cobb County, home of both Everhart and Pridemore. When some of the delegates didn't show up, creating a conflict over how to seat alternates who were supporting one woman or the other.
The caucusing of Cobb and other large delegations threw the convention off schedule.
Many grassroots members of the party consider Everhart one of their own. She worked her way up the party ladder, chairing women's groups and local party organizations and has been a faithful volunteer.
Critics said she needs to improve fund raising. She blamed the weak economy, but some operatives say many donors gave to the Republican Governors Association and other support groups instead of to the party during the last election.
The final note of the convention was one of unity when Pridemore offered her congratulations and support to Everhart.