Handel Stood On Her Record – And Won

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Life has a way with laughing at our plans. I was on my way to an extended trip to the beach last April when I got a call from my friend Karen. She needed help with a campaign, and I agreed to rearrange my next two months.

It worked out OK. I didn’t get the break envisioned, but she’s now Georgia’s first female Republican member of Congress. I consider it time well spent.

By the time I made it to the office a week after the April 18th “jungle primary” vote, the runoff was well underway. For our opposition, they didn’t have to do much different the day after the runoff as they were the day before. For Team Handel, the support of ten other Republican candidates had to be sought, millions needed to be raised, and the staff needed to grow by about a multiple of ten.

Karen said publicly and privately it was “all hands on deck”. It was, and there was plenty to do.

The amount of money spent, the compressed timeframe to execute a full campaign, and the national attention paid to the race all added a unique dimension to what we dealt with on a daily basis. Many members of the media were only interested in reporting on the race in the context of a narrative defined by President Trump.

The General Consultants on the race – essentially the chief strategists for those unfamiliar with campaign titles – were Rob Simms and Mike Shields of Convergence Media. Simms, a friend of mine via Handel’s 2010 campaign for Governor and Handel’s former Deputy Secretary of State, is the immediate former Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Shields is a former Chief of Staff to the Republican National Committee.

Simms and Shields penned a piece for CNN.com with seven takeaways from the campaign for those looking at 2018 Congressional mid-terms. For those that want more details on this race, I highly recommend using the internet search engine of your choice and finding it.

Georgia will also have statewide elections in 2018. There’s an additional takeaway that I would like to add to their list, that has direct applicability to Republicans seeking statewide office next year, and to those who would run against them.

Karen Handel ran on her record. She ran on the promise to go to Washington as an accomplished problem solver and fixer.

Karen Handel didn’t run as an outsider. Karen Handel didn’t run as a Republican that wants to shrink government small enough so that she can put it in a bathtub and drown it. She was neither anti-establishment, nor did she present herself as the leader of a party of “no”.

Her standard stump speech was one where she contrasted the empty platitudes of her opponent with actual accomplishments from her record. He talked about eliminating wasteful spending, but she countered with the fact that she shrank the Secretary of State’s budget by 20% while increasing the effectiveness of the agency at the same time.

He talked about the need to reach across the aisle. She talked about convincing a majority Democratic Fulton County Commission to shelve a tax increase in favor of strategic cuts to fix a $100 Million deficit.

He talked about rooting out corruption. She talked about suspending a corrupt Sheriff and effectively ending her career while recouping the improperly spent money.

The Republicans running for Georgia’s top offices are all insiders to a degree. They all have records, and the state has a list of accomplishments and strides made since the depths of the great recession.

Republicans, especially those running for positions in Washington, have made great hay running against…virtually everything. That was easy fodder for the past 8 years, when a Democrat held the Oval Office.

In Georgia, Republicans have held the Governor’s mansion for almost 16 years and both chambers of the legislature approaching 14. There’s a record. While there’s always room for improvement, there are also quite a long list of accomplishments.

It’s always easy for bottom feeders to run against everything and anything, hoping the average voter can’t or won’t differentiate between their anger at inaction in DC and the demonstrable results achieved at the state level.

Karen Handel didn’t do that. She embraced competence in government, and a resume of results. And she won.

A few of the consultants that were openly critical of her efforts – and who are coaching their current candidates for next year’s elections – should probably take note of that.

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chamblee54
chamblee54
2 years ago

Jon Ossoff made an issue of the Secretary of State office budget. I checked out this, and other claims about Mrs. Handel, in a post: https://chamblee54.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/lying-his-ossoff/
“The budget of the Secretary of State office did go up while Mrs. Handel was in charge, from $4.7 m in 2006, when Mrs. Handel was elected to the post. The 2009 budget was $6.9m. Mrs. Handel resigned in 2009, to run for Governor in 2010. (Mrs. Handel has a habit of resigning from one office, to seek another.) The Secretary of State budget for 2017 is $29.6m.”
Someone should ask Brian Kemp about this.

Ellynn
Ellynn
2 years ago
Reply to  chamblee54

And yet… she still won.

Ellynn
Ellynn
2 years ago
Reply to  chamblee54

It should also be noted that between 2011 to now, the SOS office lost the budget line item for the state archive, which switched over to the Board of Regents budget Plus the state passed a law equiring all state license holders to have certified legal status of residency in whatever state they live in, including Georgia. Checking with the DVM records is to hard apparently. It’s the whole illegal immigrant/ US citizen status law. Because of how the law iswritten, each of my licenses has to have it’s own 8 page set of paperwork, notarized of course, on file… Read more »

David C
David C
2 years ago

“For those that want more details on this race, I highly recommend using the internet search engine of your choice and finding it. ”

You could also just, you know, go here: https://www.georgiapol.com/2017/07/12/seven-winning-lessons-republicans-2018/

It’s like Charlie doesn’t even know his own site anymore! Mike must be so hurt you aren’t reading his posts…

David C
David C
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Tongue, cheek, Mr. Harper.

Sally Forth
Sally Forth
2 years ago

Welcome back, Charlie – you’ve been sorely missed around here!

chamblee54
chamblee54
2 years ago

Charlie – It is interesting that you label “Lying Your Ossoff” to be shilling for someone. On election day, I had more problems with Mr. Ossoff than Mrs. Handel. Mr. Ossoff ran a poor campaign. I don’t know whether he could have won or not. He did not help himself with his clueless, over funded, dishonest campaign. Channel 11 found the Secretary of State budget claim to be the one item Mr. Ossoff got right. I found one website with budget figures. I am not going to know exactly how they relate to the way state government works. Ellen I… Read more »

chamblee54
chamblee54
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

I do not recall ever hearing about that during the campaign. I do remember Mrs. Handel saying something about the SOS budget, and wondering why it was not challenged.

https://twitter.com/chamblee54/status/879460431559090177
This picture is my favorite moment from that campaign.

Ellynn
Ellynn
2 years ago
Reply to  chamblee54

My SOS stats have as much to do with election results as yours do… Also, it is well know around here that I am dyslexic. I spell most things wrong… and I’m not a guy.

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta
2 years ago
Reply to  Ellynn

I wouldnt survive without a spell checker…even then it doesnt work so well when you misspell something that is also a word

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta
2 years ago

I was wondering how much of that money was spent in Georgia. I would think that amount would stimulate the local economy if it was spent here

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse
2 years ago

Now Handel can build a record supporting turning collusion from extraordinary to every day just good politics with the rest of the GOP. 

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Connecting dots: The NRA, the Washington Post, and Russia | Political Insider
2 years ago

[…] The pundit-turned-operative argued that the former Georgia secretary of state’s adherence to her record  helped ensure her victory. From his column: […]

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