Right about now, you gotta think Karen Handel wishes she still had her day job. She conceded her slim loss to Nathan Deal on Wednesday and since she quit her job to run for governor, now what’s she going to do?
Handel, the former Secretary of State, and Deal made the GOP primary for governor one of the most anti-gay races any gay politico can recall in recent times. Deal launched the effort to make it so anti-gay, though Handel then took it a few more steps by disparaging gay marriage, gay parents and gay kids. This after Handel just a few years ago courted LGBT voters during her two campaigns for the Fulton County Commission.
But as quick as Handel was to pivot on LGBT issues, she did so again on Wednesday. She backed Deal just a day after calling the former Congressman a “corrupt relic of Washington.” It’s that sort of behavior that prompted the AJC to label Handel as having Pants on Fire! (With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Deal leads with 50.2 percent of the vote to Handel’s 49.8 percent.)
We’ll say this for the GOP campaign: Now we know that both candidates didn’t hesitate to throw gays under the bus when even GOP voters say they want substance over red meat. The primary and even more so, the runoff, showed that both Handel and Deal will bathe in anti-gay venom if it gets them elected. They even lashed out at the Prop. 8 decision last week when that case doesn’t impact Georgia. (Unfortunately, so did Democrat Roy Barnes who, along with Libertarian John H. Monds, will face Deal on Nov. 2.)
Maybe gay-friendly GOP state Rep. Mike Jacobs, a former Democrat, can broker a peace on LGBT issues. He’s the one, after all, that pushed through a GOP-controlled General Assembly revisions to the state’s anti-bullying law this year that were supported by LGBT and progressive groups. Jacobs also criticized Handel and Deal for their gay bashing and demanded that they focus on more sustentative issues.
Handel’s full statement, courtesy the AJC:
“I want to thank all of my friends, supporters, volunteers and my campaign team for a tremendous effort over the last 16 months. We ran a terrific campaign, beat the odds to come in first place in the Primary, and came so very close in the runoff election.
“As of this morning, we are four tenths of a percentage point behind Nathan Deal with absentee ballots and overseas military votes yet to be counted.
“We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount. But we are not going to do that.
“The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes. Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.
“I spoke with Nathan this morning and let him know that I endorse his candidacy and look forward to the fight against Barnes. I have also called on all who were supporting me to give their same commitment and energy to Nathan.
I thank the people of Georgia for the opportunity to serve them and for allowing me to interview for the job of Governor. This was an amazing journey, and the friendships that Steve and I made enriched our lives immeasurably. I look forward to finding a way to serve this great state in the future.”