The 1994 Georgia gubernatorial election occurred on November 8, 1994, to elect the next Governor of Georgia from 1995 to 1999. Incumbent Democratic Governor Zell Miller, first elected in 1990, ran for a second term. In his party's primary, Miller received three challengers, but easily prevailed with just over 70% of the vote. The contest for the Republican nomination, however, was a competitive race. As no candidate received a majority of the vote, John Knox and Guy Millner advanced to a run-off election. Millner was victorious and received the Republican nomination after garnering 59.41% of the vote.
Therefore, the general election was competitive race between Zell Miller and Guy Millner. Issues such as welfare reform, education, and the removal of the Confederate battle flag from Georgia's state flag dominated the election. On election day, Miller defeated Millner 51.05%-48.95% in the second closest gubernatorial election in Georgian history - behind only the 1966 election - since Reconstruction due to the strong Republican wave of 1994. Although the state was becoming increasing more Republican, Democrats would still maintain the Governor's mansion until 2003.
A week prior to the scheduled primary elections on July 12, 14 polling locations in the southwestern portion of the state were either underwater or serving as emergency shelters as a result of the disastrous flooding wrought by Tropical Storm Alberto. State officials began discussing delaying the primary elections. However, on July 19, turnout exceeded predictions.
Despite pledging in 1990 to serve only one term, incumbent Governor Zell Miller announced his re-election bid on June 16, 1993. During the next 12 months, three other Democrats entered the primary, they included perennial candidate Jim Boyd, State Representative Charles "Judy" Poag, and Korean War veteran Mark Tate. Boy and Poag attacked Miller for attempting to change the state flag and increasing fees for driver's licenses, car tags, and sporting licenses. Miller defended other portions of his record, including the establishment of the Georgia Lottery, the passage of a $100 million tax cut, and a bill proposed that would take a tougher stance on violent criminals. In May 1994, Mark Tate was convicted of attempting defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs out of $99,000 by falsely claiming he had no other source of income. His sentencing was scheduled for July 19, the day of the primary. However, Tate's name remained on the ballot.
Miller easily prevailed against the other three Democrats, winning just over 70% of the vote, compared to 17.06% for Boyd, 6.69% for Tate, and 6.23% for Poag. Because Miller received a majority of the votes, he immediately advanced to the general election without a run-off.
Five Republicans entered to compete for the party nomination, including former State House Minority Leader Paul W. Heard, Jr., former Mayor of Waycross John Knox, Atlanta management consultant Nimrod McNair, businessman Guy Millner, and Tift County developer Leonard Morris. Then-State Senator Johnny Isakson, Miller's 1990 general election opponent, announced his intention to run again on June 16, 1993. However, he apparently withdrew from the race well before the primary in July 1994. Bert Lance, a Director of the Office of Management and Budget under PresidentJimmy Carter, predicted a run-off in the Republican primary. He also believed that Miller would face a tougher re-election against Paul Heard, citing his legislative experience and noting that, "Paul knows the state well and has the potential to be a strong candidate." During the primary, Heard pledged to reduce taxes and improve education, while attacking Miller's new prison release program, which, in Heard's opinion, un-incarcerated too many criminals. Similarly, Knox promised to cut income tax by $250 million in his first year in office, reform education, and make prison "hard time". Millner pledged to decrease taxes, make Georgia's education the top-ranking in the Southern United States, reform welfare, and force violent criminal to serve their entire sentence.