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PLAINS, Ga. — Inside a small Baptist church packed with out-of-state visitors wanting to hear from former president Jimmy Carter, one of the most eager listeners may have been his grandson, Jason.

The message of this Sunday school lesson centered on the importance of prayer when negotiating Middle East peace and balancing the daily threat of the Cold War. As Jason Carter heads into a fierce campaign for governor this year against incumbent Republican Nathan Deal, it was a relevant message from someone whose counsel he says he values.

‘‘He never compromised his faith,’’ the younger Carter said afterward of the 39th president. ‘‘All of that gives me faith and belief that you could do that, that you could go through the toils and snares of politics and come out without compromising who you are.’’


The younger Carter, a Democratic state senator from Atlanta, has been carefully crafting his campaign with proposals to improve education and help the middle class while rarely mentioning party affiliation as he looks to woo independent voters. A big question has been what role his grandfather might play in the race.

Republicans want to link the two, blasting the younger Carter as an Atlanta liberal.

So far, the former president has not made any campaign appearances but hosted private fund-raisers for his grandson, which have helped Jason Carter amass $1.8 million in contributions through March.