Fulton County Commission chair Karen Handel may not have much of a warchest yet in her bid to become Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state since Reconstruction, but her support from the business community is ironclad.
After months of speculation, Handel on July 27 officially announced her candidacy to succeed Democrat Cathy Cox, who is running for governor, in 2007.
She also rolled out a lengthy list of blue-chip supporters, including:
Charlie Loudermilk, founder of Aaron Rents Inc. (NYSE: RNT)
John Williams, founder of Post Properties Inc. (NYSE: PPS)
Joe Rogers, CEO of Waffle House Inc.
Carl Swearingen, former president of BellSouth Telecommunications Inc.’s Georgia operations
Neal Purcell, former vice chairman of KPMG LLP and former chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Former attorney general Mike Bowers, Cobb County Commission chair Sam Olens, and Fred Cooper, former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, are also on Handel’s steering committee.
Handel herself was once deputy chief of staff for Gov. Sonny Perdue and served in the first Bush administration. CIBA Vision Corp., Hallmark Cards Inc. and KPMG are among her past employers.
Political observers expect Handel, of Roswell, will be serious competition for the race’s top fundraiser thus far, former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens (R-Canton), who has racked up a record $230,000 to date. Stephens’ supporters in the corporate world include Patrick Flood, chairman and CEO of HomeBanc Corp. (NYSE: HMB), and Jim Borders, CEO of condominium developer Novare Group Holdings LLC.