Handel ad casts McBath as anti-police with footage from march with Roswell chief

Pastor Lee Jenkins with his wife, Martica, from left, Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath (with megaphone)and Roswell Police Chief James Conroy joined the peaceful Solidarity March in downtown Roswell on June 13. McBath's opponent in November, Republican Karen Handel, is using video from the march in an ad trying to portray the congresswoman as anti-police. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Democratic congresswoman accuses Republican opponent of misleading voters about her record on support of law enforcement.

Karen Handel’s first television ad of the campaign season paints her opponent, Democrat Lucy McBath, as soft on crime, deferential to violent protesters and unsupportive of law enforcement.

McBath says the 30-second spot is deceptive. She accused Republican Handel of doctoring photos and videos of her attendance at a peaceful protest in June to mislead voters.

Welcome to Georgia’s 6th Congressional District contest, a battleground race that is being watched nationally. McBath’s win over Handel two years ago helped contribute to a Democratic takeover of the U.S. House majority. Handel and Republicans are hoping that stronger GOP turnout in a presidential election year will help them win back the suburban Atlanta seat.

Handel’s ad, which launched Tuesday and is running on broadcast and cable TV, attempts to tie McBath to protests in Atlanta that turned violent at times, including vandalism and arson. Handel’s spot doesn’t mention that the demonstrations were in response to controversial killings of Black men, such as Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

Instead, she describes those protests as events that left “neighborhoods and businesses trashed, people attacked and police demonized.”

“My opponent: She is attacking those who support the police, playing partisan politics and making things worse,” Handel says in the ad’s narration.

The ad also includes footage of McBath participating in a peaceful protest against police misconduct in Roswell in June. As McBath walks, several feet behind her someone is holding a sign that says, “Some KKK wear hoods but most wear uniform and badge.”

McBath’s campaign said she was not aware of the sign and doesn’t condone the message. Her spokesman pointed out that Roswell Police Chief James Conroy walked next to her at that march, which he says demonstrates that neither the rally nor McBath is anti-police.

“Deceptively doctoring photos and videos while outright lying is what Georgians expect from career candidate Karen Handel as she has run for office over and over again for almost 20 years,” campaign manager Jake Orvis said. “Lucy McBath worked with law enforcement — including local police — to receive justice for her son after he was murdered, so she knows firsthand how important police and prosecutors are for victims and their families.”

Handel’s team says that it did not alter any of the footage in the ad; Conroy is visible briefly, but the focus is on McBath and the objectionable sign in the background.

A spokesman for Handel accused McBath of trying to play both sides, expressing support for law enforcement without condemning the sign or problematic behavior that surfaced at various protests.

Watch Handel’s Enough is Enough ad:

About the Author