Political Insider

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Karen Handel calls in some big guns for her Georgia special election campaign

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel doesn’t have the personal wealth of her top rivals in the Georgia special election. And fundraising has long been a challenge for her. But now we have evidence she’s calling in the big guns.

Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Republican mega-donor Fred Cooper will hold a fundraiser for Handel on Wednesday at Cooper’s Buckhead home. The suggested contributions start at $1,000 a couple.

Financial disclosures for the 18-candidate April 18 special election aren’t due until next week, so there’s a lot we don’t know about how much each candidate has spent.

But we know that Handel was vastly outspent in her last race, the 2014 campaign for an open U.S. Senate seat, by her Republican rivals. And we know that the roughly $5 million spent on TV ads so far in this year’s campaign for the 6th District don’t include a dime from her.

Thanks to her trio of statewide campaigns and roots in the district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb, that hasn’t seemed to hurt. She’s the top Republican in most of the polls – internal and external – that have surfaced.

But the dynamic is about to change dramatically. Republicans scrambling for a slice of the electorate will sharpen their attacks. And Club for Growth, the conservative super PAC that backed Bob Gray, has telegraphed a coming attack on Handel.

Pretty soon, it seems, she’ll need to dig into her campaign coffers to play some defense.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.