As Georgia’s Special Election Looms, Republican Karen Handel Stumbles

The Georgia special election to decide on a new representative to replace Heath and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will be held on June 20, and this long-held Republican seat has a very strong possibility of flipping into the Democrats’ hands.

If it does, it won’t just be due to outside spending, massive national attention or even the staggering unpopularity of Republican President Donald Trump. Instead, it will be because GOP candidate Karen Handel is stumbling as she heads into the home stretch.

To be fair, Handel was never the strongest of Republican candidates to begin with. In the multi-member top two primary held a few months prior, she did come in second, but still managed to trail Democratic winner Jon Ossoff by nearly 30 points.

Republicans hoped that once the alternative was a Democrat in the seat, Handel would fair much better, but even now she’s still trailing. And Ossoff is frequently predicted to capture 50 to 53 percent of the vote in the general election.

One thing that isn’t helping her numbers? Recent debates against Ossoff.

In their first face-off, he was able to trip up Handel on her controversial decision to cut off Komen Race for the Cure’s donations to Planned Parenthood, as well as her delicate dance in trying to both embrace and distance herself from President Donald Trump.

But it was her off-message response to living wages that really threw Handel off her mark at the first debate.

“When asked about her position on minimum wage, Handel, a Republican, responded: ‘This is an example of a fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative. I do not support a livable wage,’” CNN reports. “She added that she instead wants ‘an economy that is robust with low taxes and regulation.’ Despite her follow-up, Handel’s comments almost instantly went viral, and groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were quick to clip and widely share the moment. ‘Even after 15 years running for office, Karen Handel couldn’t resist admitting she’s against a livable wage,’ the DCCC said in an email blast Wednesday.”

Some progressives have proclaimed the moment a game changer for the race in Ossoff’s favor.

“She did not stop or correct herself, she plowed right through, tossing her congressional race chances off a cliff,” writes David Badash. “Handel warned a ‘livable wage’ could harm small businesses, saying they create good paying jobs.”

Ed Kilgore disagreed, arguing that “her views are not out of the mainstream for Republicans in a place like Georgia, where opposition to any minimum wage is common.”

However, that was only one last-minute stumble. Handel flubbed even harder during the second debate, when she attempted to thread the needle between climate change and man-made climate change.

“Look, I think that, clearly, there have been changes in the climate. I am not a scientist, so I read all of that and take it all in,” Handel said in response to a question about whether humans were responsible for climate change. “What I am set on is making sure we do the right thing in the right way. We all — I don’t think a single person in this room, regardless of their political persuasion, disagrees with the fact that we must be responsible stewards of our environment, but let’s do that in the right way, and not cripple American businesses and put us at a complete disadvantage with a fluffy agreement that had absolutely no ability to hold any other nations accountable.”

It’s clear that Handel is struggling to navigate debates, but the post-debate follow-through isn’t much better. According to, Georgia State Representative Park Cannon, a Democratic LGBT woman of color, was escorted out of the station where the second debate was being held after she tried to speak to Handel when the event closed — by the police.

The news station said it was simply following protocol. “It was our agreement with the campaigns that there would not be an audience Q&A after the debate,” they told Rewire in a written statement. “Based upon this agreement, all audience members were asked to remain in the studio until the candidates had left. WABE also agreed to provide security for the candidates while they were on premises, and for this reason several Atlanta Police Department officers were on site. We were honoring the security protocols established with the campaigns. WABE staff escorted Secretary Handel from the studio to the front door and asked for assistance from an officer when an audience member (whom we later learned was Representative Cannon) followed rather than remaining in the studio as requested. The actions we took were consistent with what was communicated to the candidates and the audience, and was by no means an effort to suppress the views of Georgia State Representative Cannon.”

With many Georgians already casting their ballots in early voting and Democratic enthusiasm high, it’s no wonder the GOP is sending heavy hitters like Vice President Mike Pence to try to hold her hand through the final days. The question is, will it be enough, or will the Georgia 6th go blue for the first time in decades?

Photo Credit: atlexplorer/Flickr


Yuzakir Y
Yuzakir Y1 months ago

thank for sharing

Yuzakir Y
Yuzakir Y1 months ago


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Paul B
Paul B8 months ago

And the Dems hopes are smashed once again... 0-5 in special elections. I admit that winning any of them was a long shot, but Dems are desperate to find a kink in the armor of those who support and elected Trump, and despite spending an all time record amount on the Georgia House seat, they came up well short. It is time for the Dems to find a new strategy as the current of one simply trashing Trump and his supporters is not working, in fact it only serves to rally Trump's supporters even more, in disgust for the way they are viewed by the left.
Dems desperate to find a way to claim "Trump is done" by winning any one of these elections better come to grips that he isn't, and won't be regardless of what Mueller finds.

Margie F
Margie FOURIE8 months ago


Angela K
Angela K8 months ago


Karin Hanson
Karin Hanson8 months ago

Hopefully, this ignorant Greedy Old Party rep won't be joining the group!

Marcin J
Marcin J8 months ago


Cruel J
Cruel Justice8 months ago

If it doesn't go blue, we will see more of the DICKtator's despicable actions come to fruition.

Marzena B
Marzena B8 months ago