Handel Comes Out With A Bandwagon

From 11 Alive.

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.


  1. Maverick says:

    Hmmm. Methinks those fellas on that list will be a little less than willing to go out in the hot summer to knock on voter’s doors…no one outside of Metro Atlanta knows or cares who the heck they are. However, they DO produce cash…something it seems Handel will be able to do quite competitively, even though she’s a reporting period behind the other candidates.

  2. Rebel says:

    Interesting that 11 Alive basically just reproduced the press release the campaign sent out…

    I don’t recall seeing a posting of a Stephens, McGuire or Bailey press release. Guess they’ve chosen sides.

  3. PeggyP says:

    If you don’t want to read the whole Southern Voice article, here’s the most interesting three paragraphs. Not making a judgement call on the issues, just pointing out that this makes it REALLY tough for her in a Republican Primary…

    “Karen Handel, the behind-the-scenes Republican player who won the Fulton County Commission chair race in 2003, reached out to gay voters in her campaign, and before that in a failed run for the commission a year earlier. The Log Cabin Republicans backed her, and Handel took part in Pride, the AIDS Walk and a Georgia Equality barbeque that year. She even stumped for the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats, though they ended up backing a gay Democrat.

    Handel pledged to give gay Fulton residents a place at the political table, without necessarily supporting all of our issues. She supported Amendment 1, but without publicly lobbying for its passage.

    Handel was forthcoming and fair-minded in her campaign, expressing an interest in expanding the domestic partner benefits the Fulton County Commission passed four months before her election. After she assumed her post, gay Republicans called Handel a “a model for future metro Republican candidates.�

  4. Erick says:

    I agree that this will make it very difficult for Handel in the primary. We will see how much character Bill Stephens has by how he handles this issue, which is (A) a valid issue to bring up, but (B) a reflection that Handel understands the political realities of Atlanta and has tried to balance those realities with the realities of the party she belongs to.

    I supported Amendment 1, but it is not an issue I get worked up over. Likewise, I certainly have no problem with her “giving gay Fulton residents a placea the political table.” They are, after all, voters, citizens, and residents. I could care less whether someone is gay or straight, but I very much care whether they are liberal or conservative and want more information on whether Ms. Handel leans more conservative, both socially and fiscally, or leans more liberal. If it is the former, I have no problem supporting her. If it’s the latter, then I have no use for her.

  5. Bill Simon says:

    From what I understand, Karen Handel is very anti-gay marriage.

    Anything written in Southern Voice should likely be taken as what one would read from ANY source, conservative, liberal, the PV, or this blog: an opinion written by someone with a bias of some sort which directly affects what they write.

    I forgot who said it, but it goes like this: Just because someone took the time to write it, that doesn’t make it true.

  6. albert says:

    I’m betting that McGuire is going to surprise a lot of folks. He has methodically been meeting groups of folks all over the state and has some impressive supporters. As of late the Rev. Andy Stanley, son of Rev. Charles Stanley, has joined the campaign. He isSenior Pastor of NorthPoint Community Church and has some 13,000 attendees on any given Sunday.

    If you look at his resume and his vision, for me, it’s a no brainer.

    Truett Cathy, Founder and CEO, Chick-fil-A, Inc
    Honorable Clint Day, former state Senator
    George McKerrow, Founder, Longhorn Steaks, Co-founder, Ted’s Montana Grill
    Karen Bremer, President, Great Hospitality, Inc.
    State Senator Bill Hamrick
    State Representative Bill Hembree
    Steve Riddell, Managing Partner, Troutman-Sanders
    Phil Hickey, Chairman and CEO, RARE Hospitality
    Oscar Persons, Partner, Alston and Bird
    Dr. Bruce Stein, Founder, Atlanta Urology Associates
    Jack Williams, President, Kairos Development Corp.
    Alan and Jennifer DeNyse, Founders, DeNyse Signs
    Ken Bernard, Partner, Sherrod & Bernard
    Bob Pope, Pope Capitol Ventures
    Bill Thornton, Founder, Thornton Chevrolet
    Joe Fowler, Partner, Hartley, Rowe, & Fowler
    Gary Miller, President, Greystone Power Company
    Tim Echols, President, Teen Pac
    Ron Blue, President, Christian Financial Professionals Network

  7. SenateAide says:

    Here is what I know about the Senate. All but a couple senators, including the entire leadership, signed a letter of support for Bill Stephens during the session, and he still holds 2/3 or more of the Caucus. However, in the time since Stephens resigned as Majority Leader, several senators have withdrawn their names from the letter for various reasons.

    Bill Hamrick, Bill Heath and Ronnie Chance are supporting West Georgia’s native son candidate Perry McGuire. David Shafer, Judson Hill and Dan Moody are supporting North Fulton’s native daughter candidate Karen Handel. Jeff Mullis is supporting Charlie Bailey, for reasons unknown. Jeff Chatham is neutral but opposed to Stephens, for reasons unknown. Casey Cagle is neutral.

    As best I can tell, Don Balfour still supports Bill Stephens, but his boss Joe Rogers of Waffle House is backing Karen Handel. Waffle House is a large Republican contributor, and Balfour has moved up the Republican ladder largely because he is a Waffle House employee and the perceived go-to man for Joe Rogers contributions. It is not clear if Handel went over Balfour’s head or if Balfour’s go-to status has been diminished.

    Perry McGuire has substantial shadow support in the Caucus and has received several contributions, some under $100 and not reported, from senators who wish him well but are supporting other candidates for various reasons.

  8. legal72 says:

    The only question I have concerning Mrs. Handel is how well known is she outside of Atlanta? An awful lot of people seem to think that Atlanta and the metro area will determine who is going to win. She really needs to work her rear-end off getting her name out to the rest of the state. It is still very early in the campaign and I’m not putting any money on this race just yet.

  9. Tater Tate says:

    I’ve read all the stuff about the Atl Republican leaders thinking they need a woman to help prop up Sonny. But they have picked the wrong female. Once her comments and positions on the gay partner thing gets out, she will be toast.

    And for BS, before he gets angry again, I’m not even arguing the right or wrong of the position, though that would be intersting to do, but simply the political reality.

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