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ATLANTA - Dalton Mayor David Pennington may have to live up to his first name to knock off a political Goliath.

The conservative Republican, who's lowered his city's taxes and spending, has now filed official campaign paper work to challenge Governor Nathan Deal in next year's GOP gubernatorial primary.

Pennington wasn't doing any TV interviews Tuesday, but he hinted at his campaign in a March interview with 11 Alive's Doug Richards.

"People, I think, you know, realize the state is at the moment at best directionless, if not heading in the wrong direction," Pennington said at the time.

His new campaign has now launched awebsite and put out a news release attacking Deal's leadership.

"Georgia citizens' incomes are ranked down where they were in 1979. Georgia has trailed the nation in economic performance, with the national economy growing 71% faster than ours for much of the last decade," Pennington is quoted in his statement.

Even though he was a little late for a Tuesday luncheon speech to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Governor Deal still received a standing ovation.

He drew even more applause when he touted how many jobs he's helped create in the last three years.

"One-hundred-seventy-seven-thousand new, private sector jobs since I became Governor; I'm proud of that and I hope you are, too," Deal told his audience.

(RELATED STORY ON GOV. DEAL'S CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING)

With more than a million dollars in his re-election war chest, Deal also enjoys widespread support among conservative groups, like tea party activists.

"I have some very good friends in the tea party movement; I think they appreciate things that I have done and I'm gonna count on their support," the Governor told reporters after his speech.

"Unseating Governor Deal is an extreme long shot," Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint told 11 Alive on Tuesday.

"He's done a fairly good job on the economy with jobs, the issues most voters care about and he's popular with Republicans, so it's hard to see where in the primary anyone would have much of a foothold against him," Dr. Swint added.

With no Democratic challengers and only one in his own party so far, many feel Governor Deal's re-election is his to lose.

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