Steve Handel puts foot in mouth at GOP breakfast

Steve Handel, husband of SOS candidate Karen, ignited a firestorm of sorts on the southside with an ill-advised comment at the Fayette County GOP’s monthly breakfast meeting Saturday morning, according to several attendees.

Speaking on behalf of the Handel campaign, Mr. Handel, apparently attempting to draw a parallel between Karen’s track record in Fulton county and what he understood was needed in Fayette, “said that Karen Handel had done a lot for Fulton County in locating and exposing corrupt politicans,” specifically mentioning “her problems with their former Sheriff, Jackie Barrett,” according to Fayette GOP members present at the meeting. Mr. Handel “then stated that Fayette County residents were familiar with corrupt politicians,” and then “referenced [Fayette County] Sheriff [Randall] Johnson,” causing one prominent member of the organization to walk out, and sparking a flurry of blogging on the incident.

Here’s a brief background: Randall Johnson is in his 29th year as Fayette sheriff, and is arguably the most popular elected official in the county. The last few years, the County Commission–principally Chairman Greg Dunn–has been in a legal tug-of-war over money and resources with the Sheriff’s office. Dunn, who is running for reelection despite declining popularity numbers, is the Handel campaign coordinator for Fayette County, and has reportedly promised Handel “seventy percent of the Republican vote.”

The problem here appears to be that Steve Handel, while trying to show that he (and, by extension, Karen) understands Fayette county, took the word of a relatively unpopular official who, due to his involvement with the Handel campaign, he mistakenly trusted. So, thinking he was speaking the sentiments of the citizens of the Republican stronghold, Mr. Handel wrongly maligned an extremely popular county official.

The ensuing explosion of criticism elicited this response from Mr. Handel, posted on the local newspaper’s weblog:

During my comments I stated that Karen had uncovered a corrupt sheriff and run her off. I did say it was my understanding that there had been some challenges with the Sheriff in Fayette. I did not state nor did I intend to imply that the Fayette County Sheriff Johnson is corrupt. I also hope that no one will hold Karen responsible for my misstatements. My sincere apologies if I offended anyone.

Steve Handel


  1. bowersville says:

    Excuse me Jeff, but f*** me to tears, I just read all the posts and it seems Mr. Handell stepped into a hornet’s nest of local yokals. One says this, another says that.. Fayette County can do as it pleases, it will not put either casndidate over the top.

  2. bowersville says:

    Besides Jeff, I just tried to access your internet web space and the web told me I wasn’t eligble to enter, what’s your problem?

  3. law303peachtreeroad says:

    You Handel supporters are an entertaining bunch. Who knew that letting a spouse open her mouth, sorry his mouth, would lead Bill Stephens to victory?

    ~ Stephens ’06

  4. UGAMatthew says:

    I’ve no dog in this one

    But that this mishap will lead Stevens to victory is just plain funny. Come on law303, you can do better. I’m sure of it. Keep in mind, I’m nuetral here. I’m not debasing Stevens, just asserting that this slight gaffe won’t usher Stevens to the SOS seat. Not even facetiously…

  5. law303peachtreeroad says:

    Bwoersville who are U? And what are you doing on the blogs this late? I don’t think there is internet in Bowersville, you are a drunk satffer.

  6. bowersville says:

    I don’t know what a Bwoersville is. Also what is a drunk satffer? LoL I do enjoy family, friends, grill, the lake & 3 year old grand son and adams summer ale, is that a sin? If you enjoy it too, you are welcome here. I’m not a staffer, I’m a dumb redneck, fulltime, dumbass, georgia life time resident voter.

  7. law303peachtreeroad says:

    You probably got kicked off staff. You were too dumb to even put up signs.

  8. bowersville says:

    Law, you’re so funny. Are you making a pass at me. I must advise you, I’m already spoken for. You just made a pass at me and every one on this blog knows it.

  9. bowersville says:

    By the way dumbass law, we not only have dial up, we have DSL, and our dumbass rural county is working toward wireless at an affordable rate.

  10. UGAMatthew says:

    Y’all both probably should go to bed and let the college folk, me, stay up this late. And to pre-empt any offense, I’m being facetious, so take no harm…either of you!

    btw, Bowers, Houston County is doing the same. They’re kinda on the ball about it. Its strange that a mid-GA county will be wirless before all of atl.

  11. bowersville says:

    Thanks uga, i’m just tired of folks resonating against us rural georgians as if we’re so ignorarant that we can’t think and make an unbiased decision. Damn i’M TIRED!

  12. northside elephant says:

    Jeff, is this some kind of knitting circle gossip?

    “Did you hear what Steve said? Oh my gah!”

  13. UGAMatthew says:

    Hey Jeff,
    I heard the new neighbors from Northside are as big as elephants. We have got to go the neighborhood council and put out foot down. We just can’t have people like that here…

  14. northside elephant says:

    “Hey Jeff,
    I heard the new neighbors from Northside are as big as elephants. We have got to go the neighborhood council and put out foot down. We just can’t have people like that here…” -UGAMatthew

    I don’t know if you are trying to be clever or if this is some sophmoric joke that makes sense to undergrads?

    What is your problem with me?

  15. debbie0040 says:

    At least Steve did not insult the former Vice President of the United States as the Stephens campaign did with Dan Quayle…

  16. northside elephant says:

    Jeff E. I wasn’t there and apparently you were but from what I read on the blog, most people inluding the original author did not take it as a slight. See below.

    Peter’s Response

    Submitted by Peter Pfeifer on Sat, 07/08/2006 – 10:41pm.

    “Sorry I haven’t responded to Eric’s comments before this. I was out and talking to several people who were also at the Breakfast this morning. I needed to check to see if my recollection of the events was correct as I couldn’t rely on Eric’s comments nor on the comments of “Eric’s Tablemates”. Also, I’m aware that I am not perfect so I wanted to make extra sure I was correct.

    Here’s what I found. NONE of the people I’ve asked recall Mr. Handel saying OUR Sheriff was corrupt! I certainly didn’t recall that and they don’t either! Maybe that’s what Eric thought he heard or wanted to hear or whatever, I don’t know.

    My earlier point was that if Mr. Handel had more experience, he would not have mentioned anything at all. But he did. He was a guest and a novice so I gave the guy a break.

    AND, sorry to say for many of you but I am a Bill Stevens supporter and have been for some time! So the false issue of Karen Handel is plain silly. Greg and I support different candidates! Wow! I know this is BIG NEWS for some of you! …


  17. northside elephant says:


    We can always count on you for enlightened comments

    Actually I do not work for any campaign. You may notice that I post at weird times of day, it is because I have been doing a lot of work in the UK lately.

  18. Rusty Paw says:

    Northside and Law,

    Reveal yourselves.

    If either of you is the man with six fingers on your left hand, you killed my father. You are both belligerent fools. My name is Inigo Montoya. Prepare to die.**

    BAILEY ’06!!!!

    **This a movie quote. It is not a death threat, nor do I wish either of you ill will. I hope you live long, happy and prosperous lives. But your canidates remain losers.

  19. northside elephant says:

    are there rocks ahead?

    if there are, we’ll all be dead.

    no more rhymes now, I mean it.

    anybody want a peanut?

  20. northside elephant says:


    Technically I may be your six fingered man since I helped John McCallum beat Bailey in ’98.

    How many times has Bailey lost? Come on we need to nominate a candidate that can win in November. No hard feelings though, I’ll support the nominee no matter who it is in this race.

  21. Bill Simon says:

    Brian Kemp and Gary Black will go into a run-off. Gary is spending a lot of his money for the primary, and Kemp is holding back a little for the run-off.

    Tell me how much South Georgia turns out for run-offs…?

  22. Bull Moose says:

    Yeah, ethically challenged Stephens went on the offense and attacked former Vice President Dan Quayle saying that he’s rather have the support of Zell Miller than Dan Quayle.

    Frankly, Zell hasn’t been showing good judgement as of late. He’s supporting ethically challenged Stephens and also embattled former Abramoff ally, lobbyist Ralph Reed.

    I’m ready for these types of folks to go away.

  23. republicanlifer says:

    Well, it’s obvious from the slant of the article who fed the info to the Pundit! I was there at the Breakfast, Steve Handel didn’t call the Sheriff corrupt and the “prominent” member of the organization pays dues but hasn’t been at any of the meetings until deciding to run against Greg Dunn (who, by the way, is very involved with the local Republican Party). All but the 2 or 3 people who were sitting with the “prominent” member thought the “prominent” member was trying to make a campaign issue of the incident. I polled maybe 12 to 15 people after the Breakfast and every single one thought nothing of the comment by Steve Handel, thought the guy who left showed his well-known temper, and not one thought Mr. Handel was saying anything about the local Sheriff being corrupt. It’s amazing how political races can turn mole-hills into volcanic mountains spewing venomous lava. And no, I’m not a Handel campaign member or staffer. I am a newspaper reporter and I strongly believe in objective reporting. Mr. Dunn happens to have the endorsement of the paper the blogs are in, most of those blogs are from people who have a personal ax to grind because they work for the Sheriff, they lost a political office or they didn’t get a rezoning they wanted, and so on and so forth. Disgruntled types. Also, Mr. Dunn seems to have extremely strong support from what my sources are telling me, another reason to verify facts rather than take the word of a political candidate who storms out of meetings.

  24. PTC Elephant says:

    I was at this Breakfast also! Mr. Handel did NOT say what “Lawyer Eric” says he said! Mr. Handel attempted to make a local reference to “be cool”. He shouldn’t have attempted the remark but since he’s an obvious novice, give him a break! I have a Stevens Bumper Sticker on my truck but fair is fair, honest is honest and those who wrote this in are NOT!

  25. Jeff Emanuel says:

    Peter, please take a closer look before you toss around accusations. “Lawyer Eric [sic]” didn’t write this post; I did. And I know full well that you were there, as the “flurry of blogging” which I linked to above was a flurry of responses to YOUR Fayette Citizen blog post. Your assessment in this comment (other than wrongly calling out Erick) is correct: he tried to make a comment he shouldn’t have. Unfortunately for him, some folks have latched onto that, as seen by the 70+ commenters–most of whom castigate you and Mr. Handel.

    “PTC Elephant” and “RepublicanLifer”, two tips: 1) Read the post here. You haven’t argued against a single point in the post (other than the popularity of Greg Dunn, and your claim that the outrage there wasn’t really outrage). Please find something incorrect. I didn’t claim Mr. Handel called Sheriff Johnson “corrupt”; I simply transcribed what he did say. I have as many sources as you do, as a longtime Fayette Republican myself — and I haven’t spoken to Eric Maxwell at all. (2) If you disagree so vehemently with something — and think it does damage to your interests — the best decision is probably not to dredge it up again. If you look at this thread, most of the readers took it less than seriously, and it hasn’t been commented on in quite a while. Thanks for bringing it back up and giving it added legitimacy, though — not that it needed it.

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