After taking 48.1 percent in Tuesday night’s special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Jon Ossoff will face Republican Karen Handel in the June 20 run-off election. Handel, who took 19.8 percent, is a former Georgia secretary of state and chair of the Fulton County Commission who has unsuccessfully run for governor and Senate. But in recent years, Handel is probably best known—and notorious—for her time at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which ended after her failed, politically motivated effort to get the organization to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood to perform cancer screenings.
With Handel as its vice president, Komen announced that it would no longer fund organizations that were under investigation—and of course, congressional Republicans were “investigating” Planned Parenthood as part of their ongoing political attacks on it. According to a source at the time, Handel was at the center of that decision, and in her resignation letter days later, she said that “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter.” She went on to turn whining into a profession, calling Planned Parenthood a “gigantic bully” for daring to talk to the press about having cancer screening funding cut off for political reasons, and even wrote a book called Planned Bullyhood (because Planned Parenthood is such a bully, don’t you know).
But while the Komen incident gave Handel her national profile, such as it is, she’s a longtime Georgia politician, albeit one who loses more than she wins. She ran for Fulton County Board of Commissioners and lost in 2002, then won a special election in 2003. Next, she became Georgia secretary of state in 2007, a role in which she carried out the usual Republican attacks on voting before resigning to run for governor in 2010, losing a Republican primary run-off despite Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney endorsements. She ran for Senate in 2014 and came in third in that primary. One of Handel’s Republican opponents in the 6th District special election used this record against her in an ad that noted “Over the last 15 years, Karen Handel has run six times for five different offices. She usually loses, and she didn’t even finish the jobs we did give her, always running for the next office, with higher pay or a nice new Lexus on the taxpayer dime.” (Handel drove the Lexus SUV as secretary of state.)
During her 2010 run for governor, Handel said that “as a Christian, marriage is between a man and a woman. I do not think that gay relationships are—they are not what God intended” and that she also opposed adoption by gay parents.
The 11 Republican candidates in Tuesday’s election took a narrow majority of votes, but can Republican voters unite behind a candidate who took just under 20 percent of the total vote? And what further damage will Donald Trump do to the Republican brand in the next two months?
It’s Ossoff vs. Handel now, and Ossoff needs your help. Can you chip in $3 to help Jon Ossoff beat Karen Handel in the run-off?
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