The real Republican runoff: Sarah Palin vs. the Georgia General Assembly

Day by day, the dynamics of this bitter Republican runoff for governor become ever more clear.

Only on Tuesday’s ballot will the contest pit former Secretary of State Karen Handel against former Congressman Nathan Deal.

Everywhere else, it will be Sarah Palin vs. the Georgia General Assembly. State lawmakers aren’t sure it’s a fair fight.

House Speaker David Ralston and Speaker pro tem Jan Jones.Bob Andres,

House Speaker David Ralston and Speaker pro tem Jan Jones.Bob Andres,

“We’re competing with almost a People magazine-type atmosphere when it comes to Ms. Palin and presidential politics,” House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Milton said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Jones called Palin “a nice lady” who has spent less than 24 hours in Georgia.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, was on the line as well.

“I would want to know how long Governor Palin has known Secretary Handel and how long she’s known Congressman Deal,” he said.

Ralston emphasized that his endorsement of Deal — made before he became speaker in December — was based on a 30-year friendship. Deal is a fellow North Georgian and a former state senator.

“I don’t do these things lightly. I don’t do them to write a book or get on a talk show,” the speaker said.

No one disputes that the endorsement by the former Alaskan governor, made days before the July 20 primary, was essential to Handel’s first-place finish.

On Wednesday, her campaign added a finishing touch — handing out details of a Palin-Handel rally in a Buckhead hotel less than 20 hours before polls open.

The Deal campaign has responded to the Palin avalanche by rallying the vast majority of Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate to its side — lawmakers who think they’ve been unfairly made the butt of Handel’s criticism of “sex, lies and lobbyists” at the state Capitol.

Handel was the first to call for Speaker Glenn Richardson’s resignation last year following his attempted suicide and his ex-wife’s televised revelations that he’d had an affair with a lobbyist.

But legislative hostility toward Handel has deepened within recent weeks.

In mid-June, her campaign — pointing at a TV report on another alleged relationship between a state lawmaker and lobbyist — sent out a news release with the headline “Good Ole’ Boys Strike Again.”

Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. Associated Press

Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. Associated Press

Handel — still seeking a spot in the runoff — also decried the ethics legislation passed this spring by the Legislature, in the wake of the Richardson mess, as “little more than window dressing.”

Among those miffed was the new House speaker. In replacing Richardson, Ralston had promised to clean up his predecessor’s mess.

“I expressed to [Handel] that I had some concerns about her attacks,” Ralston told reporters Wednesday.

Joe Wilkinson of Sandy Springs, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, withdrew his support of Handel — a fellow resident of north Fulton County — after the June attack.

Jones, the House speaker pro tem and another north Fulton resident, was neutral until the runoff. She termed Handel’s attacks on the Legislature as “disappointing.”

Faced with having to defend itself against charges of good-ol’-boyism, participation by women in the Legislature has been viewed as crucial by the Deal campaign.

“As Georgia’s highest-ranking female legislator, I know what it takes to get things done at the Capitol,” Jones said in a robo-call sent out to Republican voters this week. “It’s not about gender.”

Without mentioning her by name, Jones underlined the fact that Handel could become the first governor in more than 40 years who hasn’t served a term in the Legislature.

“We need a governor who’s qualified,” Jones said. “[President Barack] Obama has shown us the damage that inexperience can cause. And we can’t afford to take that same risk here in Georgia.”

Running against a GOP-led Legislature in the final days of the runoff campaign doesn’t bother Handel. It becomes yet another way to burnish her image as an outsider.

“Congressman Deal has said the Legislature would be his ‘board of directors,’ meaning they would be his boss — so of course they will support him,” Handel spokesman Dan McLagan said. “Georgians, however, want a governor who works for them, not the Legislature.”

In their conference call on Wednesday, both Ralston and Jones — the two House leaders — made sure that reporters understood that they intend to support whoever wins the Republican nomination on Tuesday.

But if Handel survives Tuesday, and if she were to beat Roy Barnes in November, this week’s drama could mean a lot in a state Capitol already famous for its dysfunction.

“This mud-wrestling contest that we’re now in is going to end soon,” Ralston said. “And when it ends, we’ve got to still balance a budget next session, we still have to work on the HOPE scholarship.”

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63 comments Add your comment


August 4th, 2010
6:30 pm

Deal and Cronan operate a salvage yard in Gainesville that for nearly 20 years enjoyed a no-bid agreement with the state to provide space for inspections of rebuilt vehicles. The AJC reported in August 2009 that Deal intervened with Graham and other state leaders to stop Graham from changing the program that earned Deal and Cronan’s company nearly $300,000 a year.

The newspaper’s report led to a congressional ethics investigation that found Deal possibly violated U.S. House rules. Deal resigned from Congress in March before any formal accusation was made.

Graham, the revenue commissioner, was ordered to provide information and documents regarding a March 27, 2009, meeting with Deal, Cronan, Cronan’s son, Deal’s then-chief of staff Chris Riley, state Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) and deputy commissioner Mack Chandler.

Riley, who is now Deal’s campaign manager, asked for the meeting, records show, and Graham’s plan to privatize the inspection process and to open it up to more locations was discussed. It was a hostile meeting.


August 4th, 2010
6:37 pm

Ms. Palin’s endorsement had nothing whatsoever to do with how I voted – for Karen Handel. :)


August 4th, 2010
6:38 pm

Hope the Legislature is ready for King Roy Act II. I don’t think the uneducated or the corrupt one can hang.


August 4th, 2010
6:43 pm

Big Bird and Momma Grizzly Mouth. Now I’d pay good money to see those two go at it! Georgia gal would kick her a*s back to Russia.


August 4th, 2010
6:44 pm

what a contest: dumb and dumber, but who is who


August 4th, 2010
6:48 pm

Maybe our Sainted Legislators should have thought of this when Richardson was banging that lobbyist, and they KNEW ABOUT IT.

Apparently getting things done means acting like amoral idiots. They’ve had a Republican governor in office and what have they done about transportation, water, and education? They were too busy watching the Richardson Porn Show.


August 4th, 2010
6:51 pm

What the Legislature wants:
1. No Bid Contracts
2. Interns both male & female
3. Lobbyist.. I won’t say for what but Glen Richardson is a hint.

Deal is OK with with that.


August 4th, 2010
7:19 pm

When the paid Deal Bloggers sober up in the morning, they are going to love this one… Spin, Spin, Spin…

Rural Education

August 4th, 2010
7:32 pm

Why does anyone really care what Palin thinks? What has she done to garner such acclaim? She has no original thought, speaks in sound bites, and has no interest in really being for anything other than her personal net worth. I don’t understand the clamor.


August 4th, 2010
7:34 pm

Rural Education

August 4th, 2010
7:32 pm

looks like you are behind in your drinking.


August 4th, 2010
7:57 pm

I had every intention of voting for Karen Handel until I heard her interview and the answers she supplied while being questioned on one of the local morning news shows a few weeks back. After listening to that interview and now with the barrage of negative campaigning these past couple of weeks frrom the Handel camp, there is no way I can vote for her.

I’ll have to vote for Nathan Deal. Although I may not agree with him on all issues, he is a competent and knowledgeable legislator. He will have the backing in the legislature to effectively govern the state; something that I don’t think will be the case with Handel if she is elected. With her, I believe we would have gridlock in government to the same degree as when Richardson was the Speaker. Also, the assertions that Deal makes about the illegal alien issues is completely true and a verifiable fact if you will check his Congressional record. He has constantly been an outspoken voice in the Congress on the illegal issue just as he claims. Additionally, he and his campaign, have not lowered themselves to the negative campaigning that the Hendel camp has. That is something that further distances me from voting for Handel. I despise that type of cut-throat campaigning.

Another reason, as debatable and irrelavent as it may seem to a lot of our voters, is this:
It is my personal belief that the Governor of Georgia should possess a college degree in order to effectively manage the state’s multi-billion dollar state budget. Why do I say that? Well folks, some of the state’s own jobs that pay only in the $25,000 to $30,000 per yr starting salary range, with limited responsibilities, require degrees in order to work in those positions. Why should the governor’s office, which manages the state’s multi-billion dollar budget, be any different? I know that this is an elected office but this is just a personal belief of my own.

Regardless of whoever wins the runoff, and to whoever ultimately becomes the Governor of Georgia, I wish them the best in order to govern our state in these very difficult times. I just believe that, on the Republican side, the nod should go to Nathan Deal.


August 4th, 2010
8:23 pm

This is getting nasty. And pathetic. One has a book full of corruption allegations and the other probably couldn’t read a book.

JDW is right. Welcome back, Governor Roy E. Barnes.

Maynard Smith

August 4th, 2010
8:32 pm

I agree JLW. I don’t expect a lot out of Georgia politicians. But Karen fell short of my low expectations. And, to top it off, she then started denigrating her opponent in a snide way. Now I suspect she doesn’t have the intelligence, schooling, or experience to manage her “Handelers” who I am sure were behind the ads and the content. But I am going with Deal though Johnson was my guy earlier.


August 4th, 2010
8:34 pm

Enter your comments here

Billy Joe Poteet

August 4th, 2010
8:36 pm

Well, I see the good ol’ boys have circled the wagons. Democrat or Republican, they will NOT allow an outsider into their very exclusive group. They want no one to upset the status quo, hinder their interactions with the lobbyists or take them to task for their actions and inactions. If Handel is defeated, it will be a celebrated event by the same folks who have enjoyed fleecing taxpayers, property owners and citizens for years – and some of you bought into it BIG TIME.

Just Peachy

August 4th, 2010
8:40 pm

I find it ironic that Handel get’s the fault of the negative ads when Deal put them out on Handel LONG before Handel simply stated facts. Deal put out a tv ad that was filled with false accusations, then produced to websites. All of that was before Karen pointed out the truth that Deal is an ethical nightmare for our state.

Billy Joe Poteet

August 4th, 2010
8:48 pm

@Just Peachy

Some people have made up their mind on that issue and do not want to be cobfused with the facts.

Billy Joe Poteet

August 4th, 2010
8:49 pm

That should be ‘confused’. Sorry . . .


August 4th, 2010
8:52 pm

@ JLW – I had every intention of voting for Karen; BUT ………..
Kinda, sorta like Mr DeMoss, Kinda sorta like flip flop Kerry; Kinda, sorta like flip flop Deal.
Remember Kerry served in Viietnam; Remember Deal did not quit – he retired.
Remember Deal had absolutely no negative ads; his negative e-mails in my inbox are really from Roy Barnes.
Kinda, sorta like he talks to his grandchildren – at a first grade level so all the morons can understand it.
Of course he has the backing of the republican state senate, which is run by the Lt Gov, who just happens to be from the same area as Deal. What state senator is going to publicly go against the Lt Gov and still hope to have a committee position next year.
I don’t see the same wholesale sell-out by House members.


August 4th, 2010
9:02 pm

Whatever happened to the issues? The state faces shortfalls in revenue and I’m not sure I want to vote for someone who thinks it’s okay to say PUT YOUR BIG BOY PANTS ON and just fix it. How demeaning. What is she going to say when meeting with executives who want to know why they should move their business to GA.?

Pat Swindall

August 4th, 2010
9:23 pm

This is just great Handel fans. Evidently she hates everyone in her party at the state and even the GA congressional level (except of course Tom Price the only GA Congressman to endorse her). They are all corrupt good ol boys and gals. She is clean and honest and sincere as they come and her mudslinging it totally proper and legitimate. Handel is a saint and we should not question anything she does or says because she is beyond question. Let’s not even talk about the real issues let just throw mud. We all know hardball is the way to get elected and Handel’s advisors are pulling the strings. Let’s not discuss her stupidity in proposing with no details at all to get rid of the state income tax (50% of state revenues). It sounds good and her Palin fan voters will easily eat it up. Of course once she it in office it won’t happen but the end justifies the means and this is a FoxNews sound bite campaign.

I would love to see a really long format debate of a couple of hours to really expose her lack of depth on the issues.

Seriously, if she were a good candidate it would not be all about mud- she would still focus on the issues but that is not the game she wants to play. I predict a very very divisive Handel administration. She will be despised by many the day she enters the job and will not be able to get much done because at the end of the day she will need legislative cooperation that she is not going to get with all her mudslinging.

I guess it will take a Gov. born and raised in DC to replicate Sherman’s march across GA. Slash and burn the GA Republican Party baby!


August 4th, 2010
10:06 pm

Stop the chatter boy’s,she’s just a small woman.Karen Handel just wants a fair shot,Palin will balance things out so the people can decide.
Whats going on?All you Politicians (local,as you say) want to team up on Karen Handel and you object to Sarah Palin giving her a hand.H O G W A S H !


August 4th, 2010
10:07 pm

The legislature does work for the taxpayers. The taxpayers elect the legislature. Anyone who says the legislature does not serve the people is trying to deceive the people.

Karen's Husband

August 4th, 2010
10:55 pm

I am here to attest that Karen definitely wears big girl pants. She has been in them since we got her out of the pullups a few weeks ago. We were having trouble with her ongoing liberal bed wetting ways. Plus, we had to secure those pants to keep Dan McLagen out….how else do you explain his scraggly, dog-butt face.

Karen, Karen, Karen….you despise those with an education, you curse those around you who cannot read your mind, and you can seldom make up your mind. Now, you would try to convince Georgians that you are a real likeable, straight shooting momma grizzly (momma wolf maybe who eats her young). You are a career politician – just like those you criticize. Being Governor is just your next stop along the way. You like to power and are a slave to the corruption. Sex, lies and lobbyists… have partaken, too. Although, few want to go the sex route with a black widow.

All of this to say, you are no better than those you criticize. Sarah Palin is a twit and should have no impact on a rationale person’s vote. I would have truly preferred you talk about jobs and education….the real issues in this campaign qand spare me the mud. I can always spot a loser by how hard they try to bring others down. You are not an honest or decent person (I will blame McLagen for taking you down that path). You would do Georgia a huge favor in the remaining debates by talking about your qualifications, education and abilities to get the job done. Talk about your plan for cleaning your daddy Sonny’s Go Stinking Fish Mess.

What the hell….you are who you complain about. You are corrupt, petty, an excuse maker. I will be hoping the voters retire you and get you and all of Sonny’s cronies out of state government. You and Sonny are the reason for the mess that is the State of Georgia.


August 4th, 2010
11:10 pm

I am not sure why any words from Palin would carry any importance at all. She is a complete disgrace to my gender. She lacks clarity of thought and has little or no ideas on problem solving. She just chatters on and on for money. Handel should disassociate herself from Palin but first Handel will have to look up the word disassociate. Why would this state want a governor without a college degree? Just to once again remind everyone that we are 49th in education in the US and we have a Governor who is proof that education doesn’t matter in Georgia.


August 4th, 2010
11:17 pm

Sarah likes Karen because they both like to leave jobs unfinished! Sarah’s opinion should only be valid for two questions, #1- beer or whiskey and #2- Waffle House or Krystal’s after last call at a Holiday Inn bar. You know what you call a Maryland college drop-out taking her hockey mom friend to Buckhead? Whitetrash! How long are we going to have to pay for John McCain’s dumb choice for a VP? We do not need an incompetent, ex-chamber of commerce cheerleader as governor. We need someone who can address legislative issues gone unaddressed for the past 8 years, issues that are complicated by never seen economic challenges and who can help create new jobs in Georgia!

Pat Swindall

August 4th, 2010
11:26 pm

Based upon some of the posts some don’t agree that Handel’s style of campaign is damaging. She may very well win the primary with such tactics but it is damaging the Republican party and is poisioning the well for her in the future as far as Georgia goes (I suspect she has ambitions back closer to her hometown). Its not that the Republican legislators “teamed up” against her as much as she has basically trashed the whole group and they are turning against her in reaction to her attacks. I am sure some are crooks but she paints with a very broad brush.

Almost all Republicans and Handel fans like Ronald Reagan, right? Well if Handel was running against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Republican presidential primaries here are the allegations she would make: Ronald Reagan is a Roosevelt liberal Democrat because he did not switch parties until 18 years earlier (1962). Handel has accused Deal of being a “Clinton Democrat” because Deal did not switch parties until 15 years ago. Handel would say that Reagan is a “relic” as he was 69 when elected. Karen has called Deal a “relic” (I think he is 67). Handel would say that Reagan was part of the problem and part of the system and hold him accountable for anything that went wrong when he as Gov. of California from 1967-75. Handel has accused Deal of being a congressional insider and part of the problem even though he is just one vote in a large legislative body. The ultmate irony is that Handel acts like Deal is an insider and a Washingon politician when she was born and raised in DC and started her life in politcs and as a lobbyist in DC. Whereas Deal is a life long Georgian. Thank God Deal has never had any union involvement as Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild (ie union) for about 8 years.

I could make some additional Handel mud vs. Reagan/Deal examples but you should get the point. It would be one thing if the mud was flying like this against Roy Barnes but this kind of slash and burn approach in the primaries goes too far and I don’t like her for it.


August 4th, 2010
11:34 pm

Let’s keep this civil folks.I believe Karen Handel will fight for what’s right and the good ole boy’s see the writing on the wall.


August 4th, 2010
11:51 pm

OK, let me quit laughing for a minute. Here’s the Deal… it surfaces that the reason Karen tells Deal to “quit squealing and put his big boy pants on” is that this is what she tells her husband after one of the strap-on sessions that make their marriage endure. Told ya ’bout the gay-bashers. Smoke=fire!


August 4th, 2010
11:54 pm

I hope Karen destroys Deal. As for the snarky comments about Palin, why don’t some of you look in the mirror? What have you done in your life that can COMPARE with what Palin has done in her 46 years, huh? Have you managed a city, much less a state? Have you regulated an important industry? Have you turned in corrupt officials at the risk of your own political career? Were you the second woman ever to run for vice president in the United State of America? Did you have the 4th most powerful governor job in the U.S., with higher security clearances than U.S. senators? Have you attracted deranged liberal enemies who file frivolous ethics complaints against you because you have the audacity to challenge the MESSIAH from Chicago?

Do you have two million Facebook fans?

Then, shut the **** up about Sarah Palin and her intellect. You’re probably just jealous and miserable.


August 5th, 2010
12:28 am

Beware the conservative concern-trolls. . .

“Well-seasoned politicians” are our problem. Either party.

If Handel wins, which I expect her to, Newt’s presidential aspirations will take a severe hit.



August 5th, 2010
12:48 am

It’s clear that the GOP House needs fresh leadership who will be able to work with the new Governor. Jan Jones and David Ralston have shown a huge lack of ethics and integrity by condoning and endorsing a candidate for Governor who has such huge ethical shortcomings as Nathan Deal.

It seriously makes you wonder, what insider deals they are trying to protect.

Ralston and Jones must go.


August 5th, 2010
12:50 am

Additionally, Chip Rogers needs to go as Senate Leader. His ethics problems tied to that meth hotel are very troubling. If everyone who was in debt could just sign over a quit claim deed and walk away from their debt, there wouldn’t be so many bankrupt realtors and developers in GA.


August 5th, 2010
1:20 am

Whatever small misdeeds Handel has in her luggage pales in comparison to Mr Corruption Deal. He has so much dirt on his hands from the investigation he avoided by resigning his seat in Congress. Career politician lining his pockets at every opportunity. Using his position for personal power. He will continue his evil ways given the chance. Hope Handell kicks his butt bad.

Larry Craig

August 5th, 2010
1:39 am

Karen empty head Handel enjoys my big boy pants, along with my wide stance. She attends many of Log Cabin Republicans meetings. Karen can’t comprehend the jealousy commandment. She covets anyone more educated than her and she has not compleated anything, either.

Larry Craig

August 5th, 2010
1:56 am

Really? The GA Forestry Commission was given $897,000 to plant trees, to hire only 20 people? Seems like the Math I-IV has really improved GA education. Georgia still at the bottom in education, but first in bank closures!

Larry Craig

August 5th, 2010
1:58 am

Karen has my red big boy pants; she enjoys modeling them.


August 5th, 2010
4:54 am

I don’t see what the problem is other than the fact you keep bringing up the Democrats in this Republican ripoff I mean runoff. Neither one talks about any issues other than calling each other crooks. In Deal’s case, you know it takes one to know one. Plus I like those tv spots with his grand kids. Reminds me of the olden days when folks told those makeup stories about slaves. Karen can not be any worse than the present governor. He is set with Go Fish and maybe she can find herself something similar. Not hard to do in this state of low education and religious fanatics.


August 5th, 2010
6:03 am

Lots of mud slinging from the Deal side, keep up the good work.


August 5th, 2010
6:19 am

Karen Handel’s Happy-Happy Hour Endorsement !


August 5th, 2010
6:48 am

Hmmmm, let’s see….we have an uneducated broad endorsed by a half term, money grabbing ex-governor of a state with no people verses a crooked career politician who thinks Georgia voters are children who he talks down to. Whomever wins the run-off won’t matter. King Roy wins in November…another ex-governor, but this one screwed up so bad the first time around he got run out of office.

Zig Zag Deal

August 5th, 2010
7:32 am

Nathan Deal. First pro abortion now pro life…First Democrat now Republican…As a State Senator he leased property to a a state agency…As a congressman, violated ethics laws then resigned to avoid an investigation. Moved power lines from his property to his neighbors. He will say or do anything to feed his ego. I believe his primary focus is on the almighty dollar.


August 5th, 2010
7:45 am

Political firebrand Sarah Palin will attend a rally for Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel on Aug. 9 at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.

Both Palin and Handel will address the audience of supporters between noon and 1 p.m.

Handel is in a runoff for the GOP nod with former Congressman Nathan Deal. Handel was the top vote-getter on July 20, capturing 34.1 percent of the Republican vote. Deal made the runoff by taking 22.9 percent of the vote, just ahead of former state Senate leader Eric Johnson, who finished third and out of the running with 20.1 percent.

Looking beyond the statewide results, Handel outpolled Deal in nine of the 10 counties where the most Republican votes were cast. Deal carried only Hall County, his home turf, among that group.

Handel also was the leading vote-getter in eight of those 10 counties. Johnson, who lives in Savannah, easily carried Chatham County.

Deal’s sphere of influence, on the other hand, was in North Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, which he served for nearly 18 years.


August 5th, 2010
7:53 am

Enter your comments here


August 5th, 2010
8:07 am

Palin did not influence my vote for Handel. But given a choice between Palin and the dumb*** GA General Ass. I take Palin.


August 5th, 2010
8:19 am

I am not from Georgia and wouldn’t know anything about this race were it not for the Palin intrusion, but reading these comments, the choice seems clear: vote for the Democrat!


August 5th, 2010
8:31 am

Did you see the movie “Grumpy Old Men”?


August 5th, 2010
8:33 am

Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!! To All 535 voting members of the Legislature; it is now official you are ALL corrupt morons:

The U.S. Post Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.

Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.

Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.

War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor” and they only want more.

Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.

Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.

The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.



August 5th, 2010
8:47 am

Nicole – you need to remove the sand from your vagina.

Billy Joe Poteet

August 5th, 2010
8:47 am

It would appear that some people “don’t want no outsider telling us how to vote”. I would only point out that Mrs. Palin is not “telling” anyone that they have to vote for Mrs. Handel. Mrs. Palin has endorsed Mrs. Handel and she will speak on Mrs. Handel’s behalf encouraging voters to vote for her. I can find nothing wrong with this.

Many members of the Georgia state legislature have publicly and privately endorsed Mr. Deal yet little mention has been made about these people “telling us how to vote”. I fail to see the difference here.

In the end, we each must make the decision for ourselves and vote accordingly.