Beach was the first major GOP candidate to announce a 2020 campaign against McBath, whose victory last year in the affluent district stretching from from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County was the biggest Georgia Democratic upset of the 2018 midterms.
She was helped by surging turnout in the state's marquee gubernatorial race, simmering suburban dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump and outside assistance from gun control groups, including Michael Bloomberg's organization, who embraced McBath's message.
McBath has quickly become a leading national figure in the firearms debate. On the stump and in her television ads, McBath has described how the death of her teenage son sparked her own activism as a spokeswoman for the firearms control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Beach and other Republicans have criticized McBath's support for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her vote to allow a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump to go forward.
First elected to the Senate in 2013, Beach took conservative stances in some of the state's most heated debates, including votes to back the campus gun measure, restrict abortion and support a version of the "religious liberty" measure.
But he also carved out a reputation supporting two issues that could have potentially helped him in a general election but hurt him in a primary: He's championed the legalization of casino gambling and sponsored several initiatives to expand mass transit.
On the campaign trail, he leveled a string of attacks against Handel, mocking her narrow victory over Jon Ossoff in the 2017 special election and questioning the degree of her support for Trump.
And he raised money at a solid clip, amassing about $500,000 since he filed paperwork to enter the race in January. Handel, by contrast, has collected more than $700,000 for her comeback bid.
Beach didn’t immediately endorse Handel or any other candidate for the seat, but he said he broadly supports a candidate “who can go beyond the rhetoric and advance commonsense policies and practical solutions” for the district.