Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: Karen Handel admits defeat, but doesn’t want to talk about it


At precisely 8 a.m. today, U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, sent a letter to supporters, admitting she had come up “a bit short” on Election Day:

Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.

While Tuesday’s loss is indeed disappointing, there is much for which we can and should be grateful….

Five minutes later, the congresswoman, who has had a strained relationship with members of the press, sent an identical note to the media, topped by this:

The following letter was distributed this morning. It contains Karen's complete thoughts on Tuesday's election. As such, there will be no additional comment today nor will Karen or campaign staff be available for interviews.

One of your Insiders has posted the details of what has become a major upset. Only last year, Handel won the Sixth District, once held by Newt Gingrich, by thumping Democrat Jon Ossoff in a special congressional election that was the most expensive in U.S. history.

Her 52 percent victory was supposed proof that the Sixth remained a bastion of Republicanism.

It will now be represented by McBath, an African-American mom whose son was murdered in a flash of racially tinged gun violence. The current tally gives McBath a 50.46 percent margin of fewer than 3,000 votes.

A couple spare thoughts on this:

-- Republican Brian Kemp has claimed victory in the race for governor, but has been somewhat sparing in his criticism of Democrat Stacey Abrams for refusing to concede. It’s possible that Kemp feared stepping on Handel, who had likewise been unwilling to bow out. With Handel no longer in the picture, we could now see Kemp and other Republicans ratchet up their language.

-- With McBath’s election, the Sixth District once again has a representative who lives in Cobb County. This was once a huge point of pride in Cobb, smashed when Tom Price, a resident of Roswell, won the seat in 2003.

-- In the Seventh District, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux still refuses to call it quits in her race against Republican incumbent Rob Woodall. They’re currently separated by 890 votes, out of 278,718 cast.

***

One person who didn’t mind talking about his defeat on Wednesday was state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, who has served in the Legislature for two decades. From his Facebook post:

Congratulations to Sally Harrell and the Democrat party for the outstanding job they did in getting out their voters. The Blue Wave struck North DeKalb, the Sandy Springs panhandle, and Peachtree Corners. In January there will be no Republican in the DeKalb House or Senate delegation. I'm not sure what else I could have done to offset the anti-Trump/Washington attitude and changing demographics.

Millar then added this sad line, which can be written only by a politician done with politics: “Please discard your campaign signs.”

***

Here comes the litigation. We are in the next, messy phase of the race for governor, a battle over ballot access that will play out in courts and the
media for days.

Late Wednesday, the state chapter of the NAACP filed a pair of lawsuits in Fulton County Superior Court that could play a role in the outcome. The first claimed that students at Spelman College and Morehouse College who participated in on-campus voter registration drives were forced to vote with a provisional ballot - or not vote at all - because their names didn’t show up on registration lists.

A second lawsuit seeks to preserve the right for voters in the Pittman Park Recreation Center area to cast ballots. That was the precinct where massive lines formed because of too few polling machines. Even after five
additional voting devices were delivered, some people waited four hours at the Atlanta site, whose hours were extended.

***

Until this governor’s race is settled, Secretary of State/Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp can expect more than the usual amount of scrutiny.

On Wednesday, the Twitter-verse boiled over with talk of a link on the secretary of state’s website that included this line: “Please click here to check the status of your mail-in absentee ballot.”

By clicking “here,” one was able to download a list of 291,164 voters who had requested absentee ballots, their addresses, and their reasons for requesting the ballot – “disabled” or “elderly,” for instance.

The explanation obtained by the website TechCrunch:

When reached, Georgia secretary of state’s press secretary Candice Broce told TechCrunch that all of the data “is clearly designated as public information under state law,” and denied that the data was “confidential or sensitive.”

“State law requires the public availability of voter lists, including names and address of registered voters,” she said in an email.

And yet, when we clicked on the link this morning, it had been 404’d.

***

Over at the Daily Report, Katheryn Tucker has the service details for the late state Supreme Court chief justice Harris Hines, who died this weekend in an automobile accident, only months after retiring:

Plans are being made for a memorial service to honor retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines, at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall of his church, First Presbyterian of Marietta.

Because of seating limitations and expectations of a big turnout, plans are being made to stream the service on the internet…

*** 

Supporters of President Donald Trump aren’t the only ones cheering Wednesday’s departure of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. From the New York Post:

Shares of Canadian cannabis grower Tilray jumped 34 percent to close at $139.60 as marijuana tracking funds in the US jumped 9 percent in late trading to new highs on the news that the Trump administration’s major opponent of legalizing marijuana was no longer in the picture.

Medicinal marijuana users in Georgia had also been unnerved by Sessions’ hard line on cannibas.

***

In Washington, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Wednesday brought out an exit poll that he said showed evangelical voters as the force behind Republican victories across the country. From the Christian Post:

In Georgia — where Democrat Stacey Abrams is hoping for a runoff as she appears to be trailing Republican Brian Kemp in the state's gubernatorial race — Reed said that white evangelicals made up 36 percent of the electorate. Eighty-nine percent of Georgia's white evangelicals voted for Kemp.

"They are the reasons that Kemp is the governor-elect of the state of Georgia," Reed said. "We believe he will be so without a runoff."

Reed said that should there be a runoff in Georgia, his home state, Faith & Freedom Coalition will resume its get-out-the-vote efforts.

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