Karen Handel Testing US Senate Waters; A Perdue Taking A Look Too

Former Georgia Secretary of State and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel is now exploring entering the U.S. Senate race to replace Saxby Chambliss as an active possibility.  Handel has been mostly quiet since Chambliss’ surprise retirement announcement, while allowing conventional wisdom to linger that she would seek the 6th District Congressional Seat presumably to be vacated by Tom Price.

Price has since delayed an official announcement until May, while others sizing up the race have either announced (Paul Broun) or have retained staff and begun initial fundraising efforts (Gingrey, Kingston).  Handel, now seeing the real possibility that Price may opt out, is beginning the process of checking with supporters and sizing up initial donor support.

Handel would start with an initial fundraising deficit to the members of Congress who have been able to raise campaign cash in their existing Congressional campaign accounts.  But she also starts with the advantage of having run a recent statewide campaign with a grassroots base in tact as well as national name ID from her time with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Handel remains likely to defer to Price at least until his current May deadline, but also seems willing to chart her own course or at least be prepared to make her own decision when the time is right.

Meanwhile, there may be a Perdue in the Senate race after all.  Not former Governor Sonny Perdue, but his cousin, David is also exploring a run.  According to his bio on Perdue Partners’ website, he is a founder of the firm along with his cousin and former Governor.  David is the former CEO of Dollar General, textile firm Pillowtex, and the Reebok brand.

The younger Perdue has no elective experience, but was appointed to the Georgia Ports Authority Board by his cousin.

Perdue appears to have the ability to self-fund the initial phase of his campaign and is presumed to have the network of his Uncle to form the core of a grassroots network.  He’ll also have a Tea Party network to deal with that Governor Perdue did not – one that will likely have a lot of questions of an appointment to a critical state position from a relative and how that appointment benefited the startup company which he founded.

*An earlier version of this story identified David Perdue as Sonny Perdue’s nephew.  We apologize for the error.*


  1. jpmsouth says:

    Per haps it would be easier to run a story about who will NOT run for Senate. A listing of the few of us (of the 9.3 million Georgians) not rumored to run would not be as much fun – but definitely shorter in length.

  2. Ellynn says:

    David Perdue would need to explain to the Tea Party and the cut speading crowds why he backed some of the federal funds the GPA has either gotten through earmarks (when they were still fashionable) or by asking directly from congress, the funds to do the research and/or the future work deepening the Savannah River. Kingston may also have the problem state wide.

  3. Three Jack says:

    I fully support Karen and hope the tea leaves come up favorable for her run. But this is one of those big decisions a politician faces after losing a close statewide primary recently. If she runs and loses, that will likely be the last time she can be considered a serious statewide candidate. Tough call for any aspiring public servant.

    Best wishes to her and Steve as they work through the process.

  4. tdk790 says:

    I’m happy Handel is looking at it more closely. I’ve said all along I think she and Price would be much better than the other choices.

    Perdue running wouldn’t make much sense, you can’t buy a geographical base in a crowded field. And that’s not even considering the accusations above.

  5. I have noticed in my polling (and I’ve had multiple Republican friends confirm they’ve seen it too in theirs) that Handel did some serious damage to her brand with Komen. Maybe not enough damage to lose a Republican primary, but the general electorate will be a tough hurdle for her.

    She also doesn’t have a great track record in elections where Sonny isn’t doing the personal heavy lifting.

    • tdk790 says:

      I’m no pollster but it when one group says she is not pro-life enough and another says she is too pro-life, those attacks seem to be conflicting. For more on tough hurdles in a general, google Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, for starters.

      As for Sonny, she was less than 1% off without his heavy lifting.. and has gained popularity in GOP circles since. Ask your multiple Republican friends about that.

    • Harry says:

      The truth is, the lib media and national Democrats would be scared to death of Karen Handel. She would engage soccer moms and working moms unlike none other.

      • DoubleDawg3 says:

        No offense Harry, but how would Handel engage “Moms” when she doesn’t have any children herself, thus they’re less likely to identify with her?

        I think Chris is more heads up than many in the GOP want to believe…the state is conservative, but it’s trending back to the moderate side on state wide, and being on the “outside” of Komen, regardless of which side you believe and/or support, probably hurts in a good portion of the female demographic.

        Truthfully, I don’t see Handel being a winning candidate…I think she’s not overly attractive to female voters (like a female candidate could/should be) and she’s still got a base of the GOP population that she will have isolated from her GOV campaign and her actions afterward, that might not support a Democrat, but won’t vote for her.

        • Harry says:

          I don’t know, maybe you’re right, but she could prove to be a strong, outspoken female in male-dominated Georgia politics. I’d like to see her get involved in a campaign one more time.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            +1…The flap with Komen and Planned Parenthood may not have played well with the left-leaning media, but it did give her the “street cred” that she might have been missing before with the grassroots and the conservative base of the GOP.

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