ROSWELL, Ga. – Karen Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state who narrowly lost the runoff for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, now has set her sights on the U.S. Senate race.
She said she is planning to run for the seat of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is stepping down at the end of his second term.
She will face stiff competition from three Georgia congressmen, but some pundits are already giving the early nod to Handel due to her strong showing when she narrowly lost the Republican primary to Nathan Deal by 2,500 votes.
Handel said she has the experience of two statewide races and has made the contacts that go along with that.
“I’m battle-tested,” she said.
Handel said she is running for Senate because “we need less Washington in Washington.” The endless gridlock leading to inactivity, unemployment and government on the backs of businesses continue to stymie economic growth.
“Out of control spending has left us with a crushing debt. It’s time to deal with it and stop kicking the can down the road – this cannot be the legacy we leave to future generations,” she said.
Handel said to loose real growth, the country needs prosperity driven by free market solutions. Government spending and bailouts are not sustainable.
She will face three experienced Republican congressmen in the primary:
** Rep. Phil Gringrey, a Marietta doctor, has contacts in the metro area.
** Rep. Paul Broun, a doctor from Athens, appeals to the rural parts of the state.
** Rep. Jack Kingston is from Savannah, but does not have much of a base in the metro area.
Handel came from almost nowhere in the last gubernatorial race with little name recognition and not a lot of money to force a runoff with Deal, who won easily in November.
An article in the April 4 National Review profiling Handel predicted her entering the race despite three siting congressmen with good conservative credentials. But that was only if Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, her political ally, chose to stay out of the race. Price endorsed Handel’s bid for governor. Now that Price has said he is not getting in the race, it has opened the door for her.
Known as a woman who is not afraid to step on toes and who has a reputation for getting things done, Handel connects with voters. She also has an edge in that she has been a strong statewide candidate while her opponents are only known regionally.
Handel has made contacts throughout the state in her campaigns for secretary of state and governor, and it should not take too much effort to renew those ties. She won the respect of conservatives when as an officer in the Susan G. Komen Foundation she took the hit when Komen made national headlines for pulling support of Planned Parenthood.
Still, it is expected to be a hard-fought race among experienced campaigners. A lot will depend on fundraising. That was not Handel’s hallmark in her gubernatorial run, but she has a lot more name recognition now and savvy that comes with experience.