In her bid for a place in an August runoff, Karen Handel apparently couldn’t decide which one of three GOP rivals for governor to attack.
So Handel has gone after all three, in an expensive, eight-page glossy “magazine” that Republican voters – perhaps women in particular – are receiving in their mailboxes this week.
Consider it the first media-based attack of the GOP primary.
A high-priced mailer like this is sometimes a sign that a candidate has opted out of a full-bore TV campaign – the kind that state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and former state senator Eric Johnson of Savannah are currently engaged in.
But Handel campaign spokesman Dan McLagan denies that the magazine is a substitute for a TV campaign, and said his candidate’s spots will surface soon enough.
The magazine’s content:
– The campaign went to the trouble to create a specific Fulton County edition – only the cover and back page are different — that touts Handel’s battles as chairman of the county commission. Fulton County supplied 8 percent of GOP ballots in the 2006 primary.
— Page Two is biographical, laying out Handel’s decision to leave home and a dysfunctional family at age 17, before finishing high school. The account of her life story says she “attended college at night pursuing a degree in accounting,” but glosses over the lack of a diploma.
Front and center is an endorsement from endorsement from Marilyn Quayle, wife of the former vice president, whom Handel served as deputy chief of staff.
Throughout the magazine is the theme of running against the good ol’ boy network that dominates the state Capitol, including her January denunciation of “sex, lies and lobbyists.”
Page Seven is devoted to attacks on her three rivals:
– Nathan Deal, she says, resigned his seat in Congress “to avoid an ethics investigation after he used his power to protect a lucrative state program that was making him hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
– Oxendine “illegally funneled more than $120,000 to his campaign from shady insurance political action committees in Alabama.”
– Johnson “made almost $1 million for his company off of state contracts. He illegally failed to report almost $300,000 as the law required him to do.”
A non-Fulton County version of the Handel mailer was addressed to a female member of the Galloway household. And the closing language below, found on the back page, appears aimed at mothers and wives who have picked up one too many pairs of boxer shorts off the floor:
“While the good-ole-boys are busy with smoke-filled rooms, their sweetheart deals, cover-ups and politics as usual, Karen Handel is cleaning up the mess, setting Georgia in a new direction.
“She’s won tough elections, cleaned up corruption wherever she finds it, and is ready to be a new, next-generation, problem-solving, conservative governor.”
A competitor pointed us to this Page 6 quote, drawn from a blog called Election Advantage:
“Former secretary of state Karen Handel seems to be slowly asserting herself as the Republican frontrunner, as she seems to lack the baggage of Nathan Deal and seems better liked…than Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.”
The author of Election Advantage, the competitor said, is a 22-year-old student at the University of Maryland — according to the web site. But the biography was written 18 months ago. So the blog author is at least 23, and perhaps has graduated.