Political Insider

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Saxby Chambliss vouches for Karen Handel in 6th District race

Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss calls Republican Karen Handel the "clear conservative choice" in Georgia's special election, becoming the latest high-profile politician to publicly vouch for a candidate ahead of Tuesday's vote to represent Georgia's 6th District.

The ad is underwritten by Ending Spending, a conservative super PAC that has already spent more than $1 million on ads, mailers and robo-calls for Handel’s campaign – and expects to pump another $500,000 into the contest before next week.

And it comes as Handel is under withering assault from two top GOP adversaries competing for what could be a sole runoff spot against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Republicans Dan Moody and Bob Gray have unleashed scathing new ads; one paints her as a selfish wannabe, another compares her to John Kerry.

Handel leads her fellow Republicans in most of the public polls, thanks in part to high name recognition from a trio of statewide campaigns and roots in the district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb. Her supporters brush off the recent round of attacks by Moody.

“He’s been positive the whole race and now he decides to attack Karen," said Ending Spending chief Brian Baker. "When you see a guy like that go negative at the end, it smells like death."

The endorsement was no surprise, as Chambliss has already hosted a fundraiser for Handel. She also plans to roll out the endorsement Wednesday of Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, a former Georgia GOP chair.

Other high-profile Republicans have waded into the race. Sen. David Perdue is also featured in an ad telling viewers that Moody is "one of us." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have both endorsed ex-state Sen. Judson Hill.

Ossoff, meanwhile, has lined up support from much of his party’s political establishment. His solid poll numbers and remarkable fundraising – he raised a record $8.3 million in one quarter – have given Democrats hope they can flip the long-held GOP district.

Watch the ad below:

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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.