In a roundabout fashion, the high-school education of Secretary of State Karen Handel became a focus of discussion Monday.
In a column posted on his web site today, Washington political analyst Stuart Rothenberg focused on the comeback chances of former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes. Rothenberg made this note of two GOP rivals, Nathan Deal and Handel:
Observers see Deal as a more formidable general election candidate, though they agree that his service in Washington, D.C., may not be an asset given Congress’ image.
Handel, who earned a GED and worked in the nation’s capital for Hallmark Cards and later in the Bush-Quayle White House before moving to Georgia and being elected to the Fulton County Commission, is regarded as less prepared to stand toe-to-toe with Barnes in a debate.
A Handel staffer saw the column late last week, when it originally appeared in Roll Call. Matt Carrothers said he told Rothenberg that Handel graduated “with her classmates” in May 1980 from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro, MD. Via diploma, not GED.
That Handel’s education is limited is no secret. It is, in fact, part of her hard-scrabble biography.
At the state GOP convention in Savannah this spring, her campaign video described the candidate as “someone who never got to enjoy a picture-perfect childhood, who ho had to leave home at 17, get a job, finish high school alone, yet advance all the way to the White House as deputy chief of staff to Marilyn Quayle.”
The biography on Handel’s campaign web site includes this:
A deteriorating family situation caused Karen to leave home at 17. She got a job and finished high school. She also put herself through as much college as she could afford before starting a career that would see her rise rapidly through corporate America (including CIBA Vision and accounting firm KPMG) and Republican politics.
Apparently, Handel’s biography on Wikipedia — the on-line encyclopedia that is, shall we say, adjustable — at one time mentioned that she had finished high school with a GED. The line is no longer there.
We called Rothenberg this afternoon. The political analyst said he picked up information about the GED by talking to his Georgia contacts. Rothenberg acknowledged that he saw the information on Wikipedia as well, but said that’s not what he based his reporting on.
“I may have made a mistake,” Rothenberg said. But the columnist said he has also asked Handel’s staff for more information. “I’m waiting for a response,” he said. “I’m waiting for data on the woman’s life.”
Now, about Wikipedia. It is possible to trace those who make changes to its various entries.
PeachPundit operator Erick Erickson says he’s tracked down the author of the Handel/GED line, and he has fingered a member of the John Oxendine campaign.
Tim Echols, the new campaign manager for the Oxendine campaign, said he was only informed of the situation late Monday, and was still investigating the situation.
You’ll recall that incident in 2006 when Secretary of State Cathy Cox, then a Democratic candidate for governor, parted ways with her campaign manager after it was found that he had doctored the Wikipedia entry for her primary rival, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
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