Former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel. Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Georgia 6th: Beach takes to Washington radio to slam Handel

Brandon Beach leveled his most direct attack yet against former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in an interview with a Washington radio show, mocking his 6th District rival’s defeats before he agreed with a host who called her a “Never Trumper.” 

The state senator on Tuesday told John Fredericks, a former Georgia broadcaster who has a D.C.-based show, that Handel has “never been re-elected to an office in her career” and that if she wins the GOP nod she’ll lose again to Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath.

Beach also said Handel struggled to defeat Jon Ossoff in 2017 and lost to McBath last year because she didn’t cozy up enough to President Donald Trump, who only narrowly carried the district in the 2016 vote. 

“I think one of the reasons she lost is that she distanced herself from Trump, and on immigration,” Beach said, adding: “We have to embrace the president on his policies.”

Handel, who campaigned with Trump during the 2017 election, is the presumed frontrunner in a crowded Republican nominating contest for the right to challenge McBath. Her campaign dismissed Beach’s attack.

“With his record of tax increases, casino gambling, MARTA expansion and the Equal Rights Amendment, it’s no wonder Brandon is campaigning in Virginia,” said Chris Broyles, her campaign manager. “Because conservatives in Georgia’s 6th sure as heck aren’t going to buy it.”

The House Democratic campaign arm caught wind of the interview, too, using it to point to McBath’s strong recent fundraising report

“Rep. McBath outraised the entire Republican field combined - and with no significant financial support, Georgia Republicans are once again stumbling over themselves to saddle up with President Trump and lob nasty attacks at each other,” said Avery Jaffe of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Though they share some of the same roots – both live in north Fulton County and both led the same local chamber of commerce – Beach and Handel have long been fierce rivals. 

Still, Beach has largely avoided harsh public attacks on Handel at campaign stops around the district, which spans much of north Atlanta’s suburbs, even as they compete for the same pool of donors and endorsements

That may have changed with the interview, which also featured Beach defending the series of tweets from Trump urging liberal members of Congress to “go back” to their countries, a well-worn racist trope. 

“Let me say this, the president is not a racist. I mean you can look at some of his appointments he has made since he has become president,” he said, adding: “He is frustrated like most Americans with the far left complaining about this country. I don’t think he is a racist.”

Near the end of the interview, Fredericks accused Handel of a “bizarre” campaign style and falsely claimed she opposed the GOP tax cut plan, which she backed in 2017 and made a central part of her re-election bid.

“Not only did she run away from the president as a Never Trumper, she ran away from his tax cut, the core of the economic boom,” Fredericks said. 

“I agree with you,” Beach replied. 

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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.
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