I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I’m a supporter of Karen Handel. Karen is a friend. That’s not why I’m supporting her. If you’ve been around the block a few times, you learn in this business that sometimes you have to tell your friends you can’t support them. And why. This isn’t one of those occasions. I support Karen without hesitation or reservation. I do so not because of our friendship, but because she’s the best person for the job.
We became friends sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. Or at least, that’s when we met. It’s almost impossible to become friends with someone in the midst of a campaign. Campaigns are good for networking; For picking up acquaintances who have shared goals. When the campaigns are over, goals often diverge. That’s when you find out who your friends are. I have about a quarter century experience with this.
That campaign for Governor was tough. Likely too tough. I started out without a candidate, eventually choosing Karen about a month before the primary. Things got personal. At times it was Karen against the world. She didn’t do what was easy. She didn’t bend in the face of overwhelming pressure to ease up. She stood on the principles she believed in until the end. She went down swinging. If something is worth fighting for, it’s the only way to fight.
Karen also knew when it was over. Those that want to protect their entrenched seats at the table like to pretend that Karen isn’t a team player. She is. She fights when there’s a fight worth having, but she also knows when it’s time to unify. She endorsed Nathan Deal in 2010. She became an active surrogate for him at a pivotal time in the 2014 campaign. She did the same for David Perdue in 2014, when a lot of internal polls said he was in real trouble.
Her thanks for that is that she’s mocked for wearing pearls, and commercials by Senator Perdue saying his hand picked insider “is one of us”. Nope. Karen isn’t one of them. She’s not going to go along just to get along. She’ll get along when it’s the best path to preserve conservative principles and governance. But when defining what is conservative is an open question, she’ll fight like nobody’s business.
I firmly believe that you learn more about a person when they lose a campaign than you’ll ever learn when they win. Karen’s lost twice (As have Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson – people who have held the seat she is currently seeking.) She’s learned both times. I sense she’s learned a lot about herself. The Karen Handel running in 2017 is relaxed, and at peace. Personally, she’s going to be good with whatever happens. She’s no longer taking on the whole world. She’s offering herself to help fix a very broken DC. She and Steve are going to be fine either way. And yet, she’s fighting. She understands what is at stake.
She hasn’t always been at peace. Karen has been fighting her entire life. She left home due to an abusive home environment before she had even finished high school. She luckily found a mentor early in her professional career that helped her refine some rough edges and prepare her to work in executive circles. She took over a North Fulton Chamber of Commerce teetering on bankruptcy. She fought to keep the doors open, leaving it in a quite healthy financial position. She left to Chair the Fulton County Commission and fought a Democratic majority that wanted her to raise taxes as one of her first votes. The Club for Growth should be thanking her for resisting the easy vote and saying “we’ll balance it next year”. She fought. She held firm. And they balanced that budget without a tax increase.
She was then elected to Secretary of State where she reduced her budget 20% while implementing voter ID laws. The usual suspects sued saying that was a voter suppression tactic. She fought, and she won, largely because she made sure that the state would travel to any individual voter with a mobile unit to issue an ID. She protected the sanctity of one person, one vote AND the access to the right to vote. That’s what being prepared for a fight and understanding your oath will do for you.
We need to send more people to Washington that are not just willing to fight, but are both prepared for the battle and know how and when to fight. We don’t need someone else who is “one of us”, and we don’t need anyone seeking martyrdom via purity. We need someone who has been tested, proven, and ready for the task ahead. We need someone who isn’t going to Washington to make friends, but to force change.
We need Karen Handel.