Less than 12 hours after Sarah Palin endorsed former secretary of state Karen Handel, the Republican campaign for governor kicked into high gear.
Former congressman Nathan Deal and former state senator Eric Johnson of Savannah both blistered Handel with accusations that she was gay friendly and loose with the truth.
But only state Insurance John Oxendine, who as frontrunner has long kept himself above the fray, had the money to launch this bad-hair attack on TV last night – charging that, five years ago, as chairman of the Fulton County Commission, Handel voted in favor of a $425,568 allocation for Planned Parenthood:
Female narrator: (Unfolding photo of Karen Handel) Know who this is? Under her leadership, Fulton County’s budget skyrocketed. She gave almost a half-million dollars to an abortion provider. And supported tax-payer benefits for gay couples. Sounds like a liberal Democrat. It’s the Karen Handel you didn’t know.
(Video of Oxendine) But you know John Oxendine. As insurance commissioner, Oxendine delivered more services while cutting his budget. And has a real plan for Georgia’s future. Conservative. Effective. Outsider. John Oxendine for governor.
The Oxendine campaign has posted the video and documentation at a web site called therealkarenhandel.com. Sound track provided by the Eagles, singing “Lyin’ Eyes.”
The Handel campaign responded with no-holds-barred language. “John Oxendine is the most corrupt politician in Georgia’s history and is far more likely to serve a term in prison than he is to serve as Governor,” Handel spokesman Dan McLagan said.
He pointed out that the AJC article cited by Oxendine — saying Fulton spending had “skyrocketed” — came only a few months after Handel was elected. Moreover, the article portrayed the new chairman as someone who thought the budget was out of control.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
Fulton County government is either a massive spendthrift or a prudent money manager. It all depends on whom taxpayers want to believe.
One faction on the county Board of Commissioners, led by new GOP Chairwoman Karen Handel, says the county’s spending is out of control and must be reined in before disaster strikes.
Others, including Emma Darnell, Nancy Boxill and Bill Edwards, say Fulton’s finances are strong and well-managed
Fulton government spending has skyrocketed in recent years, with the rate of growth of government spending outpacing inflation and population growth since 1997.
On the Planned Parenthood spending, the Handel campaign says:
These funds were a pass-through grant from Congress to the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health — ironically when Nathan Deal was in Congress and Eric Johnson was in the State Senate — to provide screening for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical and breast cancer. Federal and state law, as well as State DHR regulations prohibited the funds from being used for abortion services, referrals or information.
The domestic partnership you know about. The Oxendine camp sources the 2002 e-mail Handel wrote to a member of the Log Cabin Republicans. The Handel campaign notes that, when the only vote on the issue came before the county commission, she registered a “no” vote.