Handel debates GOP opponents with eye on rematch vs. McBath

Screenshot of former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel speaking during an Atlanta Press Club debate on May 4, 2020, that included four other Republican candidates for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
Screenshot of former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel speaking during an Atlanta Press Club debate on May 4, 2020, that included four other Republican candidates for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

Karen Handel has the money, the experience and the name recognition that should put her ahead of other Republicans running for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District nomination.

But she also has something else that her opponents say weakens her chances this year: her defeat two years ago by incumbent U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath.

McBath unseated Handel in 2018, and the two are expected to meet in a rematch in November. First, Handel must make it through the June primary where she faces four others.

“There is only one Republican strong enough, experienced enough, with the organization and the money to win against Lucy, and you’re looking at her,” Handel said during Monday’s debate hosted by The Atlanta Press Club in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

However, her opponents said that Handel’s loss two years ago proved that she is not the right candidate if Republicans want to take back control of the suburban Atlanta district.

“You can’t beat McBath,” former Atlanta Falcon and businessman Joe Profit said. “You’ve already had the seat and couldn’t do it; I don’t believe that you could do it now.”

Profit ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson in the 4th District two years ago. Initially, he indicated he would run this year in the 7th District race before switching to the 6th.

Profit said during Monday’s debate that he is in a better position than Handel to face McBath.

Other candidates included Mykel Lynn Barthelemy, an operations manager who said she lives outside of the district. Barthelemy wrote a book titled, “Trump Is Not A Racist! Here’s Why” and during the debate said he is the “greatest president ever.”

Singer and entrepreneur Paulette Smith also owns a home outside of District 6 but said she launched a campaign because of her compassionate for people.

The final Republicans in the race is Blake Harbin, who leads a mortgage loan company.

Read more: Who's running in Georgia's 6th Congressional District

Visit AJC.com for more coverage of The Atlanta Press Club’s primary debates on May 3 and 4.

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