In final hours before vote, Handel reflects on ‘craziest’ 6th District race

Karen Handel bristled at a question about how last week’s attack on Republican lawmakers could influence the 6th District race. She reflected on the “craziest” election she’s seen and urged conservatives to head to the polls. And she jabbed at her opponent’s massive fundraising haul.

“Not for nothing, a squirrel is going to get a pretty decent percentage of the vote if he has $30 million behind him,” Handel quipped, an apparent reference to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s record-breaking donations.

Her comments came at a campaign stop in Tucker in the final sprint of a marathon race to represent the suburban Atlanta district, a contest that’s seen as a test of Donald Trump’s popularity and the GOP agenda. Both candidates crisscrossed the district ahead of Tuesday’s vote to rally their core supporters.

She called attempts to politicize the ambush of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and other GOP legislators during a baseball practice in suburban Washington “offensive.”

“Congressman Scalise is a friend and what we all need to be doing is keeping the tenor down, and keeping him and the others who are injured in our prayers,” she said.

That attack has ratcheted up tensions in the Georgia race. Handel and several neighbors received threatening letters with a white substance the FBI later said was likely not hazardous. Ossoff said he had to hire a security detail amid escalating threats his campaign had received.

Democrats on Monday criticized local GOP official Brad Carver for a quote in The Washington Post saying the shooting’s aftermath is “going to win the election for us.” And an attack ad sponsored by a shadowy super PAC showed footage of Scalise being wheeled from the ballfield while accusing the “unhinged left” of endorsing violence against Republicans.

Handel said that type of attack ad was “disgusting” and that it should be taken down, echoing Ossoff’s call on Sunday. As for the threatening letter she received, Handel said it made her “more determined than ever.”

“I will not be intimidated by anyone when it comes to what my beliefs are,” she said. “And I take great offense to the fact that whomever did this targeted my neighbors and friends. That just speaks to the unhealthiness out there in the discourse in this country.”

She predicted a “tremendous” turnout in Tuesday’s election and dismissed questions about whether she would run again in 2018 if she lost the vote or what a victory or defeat would say about the national political environment.

“The press really wants to make this nationalized,” said Handel. “But when all is said and done, it is all about the people of the 6th District.”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.