Handel looks to bring fresh voice to U.S. Senate seat

mstucka@macon.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Karen Handel, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.


In running for the U.S. Senate, Karen Handel is challenging candidates including three sitting congressmen for the Republican nomination. That, she says, is not a point against her.

“If they haven’t done anything to solve the problems to this point, I’m not sure how they would,” said Handel, 51, who blames “career politicians” for messes in Washington that include a fast-growing national debt.

In the primary, Handel is expected to challenge a handful of other Republicans for the seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss, including U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, and businessman David Perdue.

Handel spoke to The Telegraph on Wednesday, between learning about how Robins Air Force Base is poised for future Base Realignment and Closure Commissions and a meeting with contributors in Macon. While Handel calls others career politicians, this is not her first time in the public eye.

She led the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and then the Fulton County Commission, both times working through financial problems. She was elected Georgia’s first female Secretary of State, then made a failed bid for the governor’s seat in 2010.

Handel gained national publicity, or notoriety, after media reports tied her job as a senior vice president at Susan G. Komen for the Cure to that organization’s decision to cut its funding to Planned Parenthood. Handel resigned soon after and has been buying advertising pointing to her anti-abortion credentials. She said that doesn’t necessarily distinguish her.

“For the most part, I think everybody in this race is pro-life,” she said. “I’ve always shown that I’m an individual that will stand firm on my principles, and I’ve done that time and time again.”

Some of her experience includes being a new Fulton County commissioner who waded into a fight with a sheriff who misappropriated $7 million, she said. The sheriff was suspended, but Handel said she got death threats along the way.

If elected, Handel said she’d seek a review of regulations, such as those from the Environmental Protection Agency and the 19 federal agencies that oversee the payment processing industry.

When a reporter mentioned the poisoning of drinking water in Charleston, W.Va., and the breach of Target’s credit card security, Handel said that pointed to the need. Existing regulations may be burdensome to businesses but not actually protect consumers, she said.

“Arguably they are crushing jobs, and we’re not sure we’re getting much on the other end of it,” Handel said.

Handel also favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a plan championed by U.S. Rep. Tom Price, another Republican from Handel’s hometown of Roswell.

Handel’s campaign website mentions other issues, such as preventing the federal government from stockpiling ammunition to “backdoor ‘ammunition control.’” The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm called that an invented threat to gun rights.

Handel said the federal government must be reformed by following up on General Accounting Office reports of waste and duplication in the government, requiring every department to conduct zero-based budgeting once a decade, and moving the federal government to two-year budgets.

Those kinds of changes may be difficult now with politicians who have been in office for decades, said Handel, who vowed to stay in office no more than two six-year terms.

“The solution to breaking the gridlock is to bring in new people, individuals like myself who have a track record of getting the job done,” she said.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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