On the high-school education of Karen Handel

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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40 comments Add your comment

Roy Barnes

June 29th, 2009
3:49 pm

It doesn’t matter whether Karen has a GED or “walked with her class” or went to night school – I’m still gonna wup in her in any debate!


June 29th, 2009
3:57 pm

Who in the hell is barnes, handel or any of the other losers? Barnes? Another worthless attorney. Handel? A moron who works for the state (they hire nothing but morons who steal the money of the taxpayer), so what choices are left? None!!!!!

We need to get away from the trash of the past and we need to find & elect people with quality problem solving skills. Miller, Barnes, Purdue, nor any of the people recently elected to either state or local government had these skills. That’s why things are F**k*d.


June 29th, 2009
4:06 pm

I guess it should be one of us online posters, because we are never losers, morons, or worthless!!

Road Scholar

June 29th, 2009
4:59 pm

herbK: “A moron who works for the state (they hire nothing but morons who steal the money of the taxpayer), …”

She was not only ELECTED to the Fulton County Commission, but also to the Secretary of State office. She was “hired” but by the voters in this state. She’s a sharp cookie, and she’s ruthless! But , right now, I don’t think she has a chance; but don’t count her out yet.


June 29th, 2009
5:08 pm

“Road Scholar: She was “hired” but by the voters in this state. She’s a sharp cookie, and she’s ruthless! But , right now, I don’t think she has a chance; but don’t count her out yet.”

She’s proven herself to be a completely incompetent worthless turd. As I pray to God, you don’t vote.
You seem/sound like an idiot. If she was a ‘Sharp Cookie’, you turdball, while she’s been making (not earning) $125k/yr, her house wouldn’t be in foreclosure. Yet, the walking masses don’t understand what crooks we elect. I would have to recommend that neither Hazel or Road Scholar (good one) never vote. Not enough brain matter between these two.


June 29th, 2009
5:11 pm

Karen Handel has a high school degree?

Could have fooled me.


June 29th, 2009
5:15 pm

Herb — I think its Kathy Cox, the Georgia Secretary of Education, whose home is in foreclosure. Not Karen Handel’s.


June 29th, 2009
5:29 pm

JohnD, you may very well be right, didn’t even bother to look it up, because they both work for the state, both are useless & worthless & both need to be replaced. Thanks though, for pointing it out. Contrary to my what my detractors say, I’m not perfect.


June 29th, 2009
5:29 pm

Kinda doubt that’s the REAL Roy Barnes up above saying he’ll “wup” Karen.. but then again it does sound arrogant enough to be our former governor. Bring all the arrogance with you to 2010 – it works so well for you!

The Snark

June 29th, 2009
6:03 pm

My problem with Karen Handel is not that she lacks education, but that she lacks any skills or accomplishments that would qualify her to be Governor. On the job training is expensive in more ways than one, folks.

[...] Jim Galloway is asking about the Wikipedia incident: 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. [...]

[...] Jim Galloway over at the AJC picked up this story, but fortunately he was enough of a man to actually call some people and verify [...]


June 30th, 2009
8:20 am

“All the way to be deputy Chief of Staff for Marilyn Quayle!?!” That’s who I want to be my governor!


June 30th, 2009
9:29 am

The education thing is a non-starter. Barnes graduated High School, College and Law School, yet the people of Georgia disapproved of the way he ran the state and booted him out of office.

Even now, with everyone in Georgia knowing him, a recent poll showed that less than half of DEMOCRATS would vote for him, let alone anywhere near the majority of voters in the state. (You wouldn’t know that from reading the AJC. They reported the poll as a significant Barnes lead!)

One cannot help but think Handel’s educational background was handed to the reporter by someone connected with Barnes. The man cannot run on his record. He’s got to stir up something.

The Snark

June 30th, 2009
9:44 am

CJKatl: You have a short memory. Barnes had an impressive record of accomplishments in four years. Unfortunately, most of them have been undone by the current adminstration (smaller class sizes, “rainy day” surplus fund, expansion of drivers license offices, etc.) Say what you will about his methods, you can’t deny that Barnes knows more about state government that anyone currently running for Governor.


June 30th, 2009
10:07 am

So, who IS Brian Laurens?


June 30th, 2009
10:13 am

@CJKatl: Some of the teachers whom Gov. Barnes wanted to hold accountable for what they did in the classroom and “flaggers” who wanted to change the state flag back to the 1956 flag were the difference in 2002. Gov. Perdue broke his campaign promise to the teachers and froze their salaries, and he ticked the flaggers off by not giving the voters the right to select the 1956 flag.
As for that poll citing the “huge Barnes lead”, there is a significant number of undecideds, as well. As for the reporter conspiracy, the information is available on Mrs. Handel’s website! That’s directly from the source!
I voted for Gov. Barnes twice, and I’m ready to vote for him twice more-once in the primary and once in the general election.


June 30th, 2009
10:42 am

Brian Laurens is the North Georgia director for Oxendine.


June 30th, 2009
10:46 am

Is Brian Laurens “RomneyGingrich12″ on wiki? Has Laurens made a public comment on this issue?


June 30th, 2009
10:54 am

He hasn’t,but that is what the speculation about. Many believe he is. Myself included.


June 30th, 2009
11:03 am

Me, I don’t care what kind of education these people have. Roy Barnes is a governor from over 10 years ago. What, are we now recycling our politicians? He was already voted out once, I guess we’re gonna have to do it again for him to get the message.


June 30th, 2009
11:23 am

The Snark and DW – Barnes and his cohorts tried to steal the state government from the people. The Supreme Court (US) wrote a scathing decision pointing this out when they overturned the illegal scheme. King Roy should NEVER, EVER be given the keys to the castle again. If the Dems nominate him, the Republicans will have a field day teaching voters about how Roy tried to keep his throne with this illegal scheme.

For those who have a short memory, Barnes and his Democratic Legislature passed a scheme that was meant to shuffle voters into multi-member districts in an attempt to keep themselves in power. By taking a Republican leaning area and putting into a new multi-member district with two Democrat leaning areas and having the new district elect three representatives, Barnes and his cohorts got three Dems instead of two Dems and a Republican elected. By doing this with several hand-picked districts – including mine in DeKalb – they attempted to stack the deck in their favor. It was as bad as anything we’re seeing in Iran right now. Maybe even worse.

Any man who was part of that scheme should NEVER be elected again. Thankfully, less than half of Dems indicated in a recent poll that they had any interest in having him back in office. There are two types of candidates – those that have to introduce themselves to the voters and those that the voters already know. When voters already know a candidate, it is unlikely voters will change opinion from negative to positive. Barnes is starting out with majority negative. It will be impossible for him to win, as that would require each of those with a favorable opinion to hold on and those with a negative opinion to change views. That, thankfully, ain’t gonna happen. As those inclined to vote for Barnes learn about other candidates, they will gravitate towards the new, better hope for the future. None of the people disinclined to vote for Barnes are likely to change their opinions.

Care to explain to me why the mulit-member districts were fair? Why Barnes, after being part of the scheme the Supreme Court knocked down in no uncertain terms should be allowed any role in our goverment? That would be like putting Madoff in charge of your investments, Michael Jackson’s doctor in charge of your health, and letting the late, great Hosea Williams drive you home from the bar.

We don't need know college smartypants

June 30th, 2009
12:53 pm

Georgians no right from wrong, we don’t need know smartypants college. THat’s why we are number won in education. Go Dawgs!


June 30th, 2009
2:59 pm

“Georgians no right from wrong, we don’t need know smartypants college. THat’s why we are number won in education. Go Dawgs!”

Dat’s write! Gawga Edukashun iz qwality fur sure! Dont kneed no colluge. Gooooo Dawwwgs.

Tired of BS

June 30th, 2009
3:02 pm

“The Snark” is so forth right that they won’t even give their real name…hmmm… As for Ms Handel, I don’t give a ratz butt if she has or hasn’t got a college degree. Has anyone ever actually asked The Ox when he decided to become a republican…. I believe it was 1994 when all the last batch of democrats crossed over.


June 30th, 2009
4:26 pm

She was too busy being a good ultra right rep to get a degree!


June 30th, 2009
5:33 pm

Karen Handel? What a role model for the kids: Go get your GED, hang with a bunch of Republican/KuKluxKlan/Nazis Party members, and you can become a possible gubernatorial candidate.

Her selection as a leader for the Republican Party is beyond me. She reminds me of Palin and we know the “ignoramous” she is. Is this all the Republican got. Please. What a “TRAGEDY” for trying to dupe people into thinking that this lady is a leader who can head the great state of Georgia. Next, they will be asking ladies and gentlemen people who worked in the circus as having great qualifications to be governor of Georgia. GET REAL REPUBLICANS. GEEZ!!!!!! WE CITIZENS IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA ARE NOT SILLY AND STUPID LIKE YOU! WE WILL SEEK THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE (EDUCATIONALLY AND POLITICALLY) AS OUR NEXT GOVERNOR.


June 30th, 2009
6:23 pm

Bill Handel of Handel on the Law has more creed than this douche bag.

Billy Bob from cobb

June 30th, 2009
7:06 pm

Barry is al frankins booty call. what a putz


July 1st, 2009
4:11 pm

I’m going to cross over and vote for Karen in the primary.

This will be fun.

[...] All this started last week, with a Roll Call column by Stuart Rothenberg, in which he wrote that Handel had finished high school in Maryland with a mere GED. (Handel took a limited number of college courses, but didn’t finish with a degree.) [...]

[...] already picked up the GED information from Handel’s Wikipedia article. Jim Galloway at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution questioned Rothenberg on the subject: We called Rothenberg this afternoon. The political analyst [...]


July 12th, 2010
5:26 pm

Many of you may be too young to know a bit of Georgia history. Since way back in Georgia’s history (since 1872) there has been ONLY Democratic governors elected here in Goeriga.

When Governor Perdue took office the states finances were in shambles. He had to lay people off, close some of the lesser needed offices and try to deal with shortfalls in the budget. Now, WHO was the Governor that preceded him????

I think Governor Perdue, despite his shortcomings, has been a GREAT governor and I learn from history. I will never, ever vote for another Democratic canddate even if was for the county dog-catcher.


July 21st, 2010
9:44 am

Governor Barnes is a true visionary. He could make more money in his law practice but he chooses to help the people of Georgia. Remember what he did when he lost his election in 2002? He went down and volunteered at Legal Aid to help poor people that needed an attorney…..free of charge. He truly is the best candidate to lead Georgia. I don’t care if he’s democrat, Republican or Independent. He’s an honorable man that cares about the people of Georgia and he gets my vote.


July 21st, 2010
3:40 pm

anyone who runs for public office is only interested in feeding at the public trough and has no skills in problem solving.


July 21st, 2010
6:45 pm

Georgia is already the laughing stock across the country. Number 49 out of 50 states in education and our scores are getting worse. Do we really need to put a governor in office who only has a GED? Come on Georgia, there should be enough intelligent people in this state not to make such a bad mistake by voting for Karen Handel.


July 21st, 2010
6:48 pm

CJKatl, you are such an idiot!

Vann Causey

August 2nd, 2010
2:49 am

People, wake up! Look at the direction this country is headed. Do you really want Georgia to follow the lead. Are you tired of illegal immigrants taking your jobs? Are you tired of sending your hard earned American dollars back to their familes so more of them can prosper in foreign countries while we watch the tax paying hard working citizens that help build this country loose everything that they have worked for. The small businessman and woman in this country is a concept that is on its way out thanks to the taxation and government sitting on its laurels. These imigrants only want anything and everything they can take! Your homes, businesses and anything else including free healthcare and food that we are just letting them take right out of your mouths. How many of you own motels and convenience stores that our governments have put in place? Yeah, think about it, how many of you had a chance to have a business with the blessings of the state and federal governments? Look around you, look good!! They are all Indian heritage and they are everywhere. Tell me they just got here and had enough money to leave their home countries and start businesses in the US and GA. There are tons of people that would love to have this chance, hard working honest people, did the government hand them a future?

Educational failures both at the high school and lower grades are allowing our state and many others moral, social and economic decline due to the fact we do not support education. Our children can’t even count change back that work temp jobs in the summer!! Their grammar and writing skills just don’t exist! Can they read, who knows! If we don’t reestablish some strong guidelines and support our companies will have no other choice but to hire immigrants. Look around you, do we have to awaken the sleeping giant to get our lives back and governments to wake up? Its happening now!!! From the White House to the grocery store, our state and country is in dire straits!!

Think about the self serving politicians that are talking heads, they are set for life with retirement and healthcare that we have no chance of having. They voted you and I into a program that they will not even use for themselves or their familes, but we have to swallow this whole and like it!! WAKE UP

AS for the press, get a JOB. Report the truth!! How damn hard is that? WE can decide what and who we want given the facts!! Not your version of what you think we want to hear!! Remember the talking heads? What do you think they are doing, telling you anything they think you want to hear!!

Wake up, The “Good Ole Boys” politics needs to go, find some honest hardworking people that want to work to improve our schools, healthcare and governments! Look around you!!

T.C. Wilson

August 11th, 2010
7:39 am

Karen Handel’s campaign was all about spin and not about substance. She focused on bashing her competition by claiming they were all crooks. Then she spoke of her childhood struggles to get an education, omitting the fact that she never completed college. Well that is par for the course, as Karen has a history of not completing things. Elected to Secretary of State, she did not even complete a term, having her eyes on the next step. Earn your stripes Karen. Working at the White House is one thing, working for Marilyn Quaile is another. Job hopping and name dropping don’t make a governor.

[...] Deal, she supported Karen Handel. Perhaps it’s because Palin felt superior to Handel. She has more education than Handel, after all. In addition to Palin, Mitt Romney announced he was for [...]