Friday, November 23, 2012

Handel With Caution

The GOP will certainly want to take the Senate back in 2014, and to do so they'll have to defend their own seats, something they didn't do well in 2012.  The GOP primaried out more moderate candidates in the name of Tea Party purity and ended up with unelectable millstones around their necks, just ask Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock.

One of those seats in 2014 where that could happen again is Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, and the possible millstone in this case is Karen Handel.  If the name sounds familiar, you're recalling that she was the disgraced former Komen Foundation executive who pushed for the breast cancer awareness organization to defund Planned Parenthood, including cutting support for mammograms and preventative breast cancer screening that Planned Parenthood provides for low-income women.  Handel is now considering running for Chambliss's seat in the US Senate.

Karen Handel, the former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive who spearheaded the group’s effort to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood, is weighing whether or not to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, according to the Weekly Standard.

A former aide to Handel who worked on her failed 2010 gubernatorial bid told the magazine that she was considering challenging Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) to a primary contest in 2014. Kay Godwin, a co-chair of Georgia Conservatives in Action, said she was hearing similar noise about a possible primary challenge, according to the Standard.

Handel fell 2,500 votes shy of winning the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010, losing a runoff to then-Rep. Nathan Deal, who went on to win the general election. That primary drew wide national attention from party heavyweights, with prominent names like Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee backing Deal, and Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney endorsing Handel.

Handel ran on a staunchly anti-abortion platform in 2010; Palin said she offered her endorsement in part because Handel would “walk the walk” on curbing abortion.

So yeah, the odds of her saying something moronically misogynist about rape that will cost her 20 points in the race are most likely lower than that of Akin or Mourdock.  It will be interesting to see if she makes it past Chambliss, who has grown increasingly unpopular among Georgia Republicans...or at least, that's what Beltway Republicans want you to think.  Steve Benen:

By any sane standard, Chambliss is not a moderate. He's not even close to what anyone in the American mainstream would characterize as "the center." According to the most up-to-date information, Chambliss has a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 92.5, putting him well to the right of most of his Republican colleagues. The Georgian's most recent VoteView score puts him at number 80 -- with 0 being the most liberal and 100 the most conservative -- to the right of prominent conservative senators like Mitch McConnell, John Thune, and Orrin Hatch.

In other words, when making a list of conservatives who shouldn't have to worry about their far-right flank, Saxby Chambliss would be on it. And yet, here we are.

Why would the right be unsatisfied with Chambliss? For one thing, he's worked for over a year with Sen. Mark Warner, a moderate Virginia Democrat, on a debt-reduction plan that includes modest tax increases. For another, Chambliss seems inclined to pass comprehensive immigration reform, or at least something resembling it.

That, apparently, buys him a one-way ticket to Primary Town, his overall voting record notwithstanding.

So the Handel thing has nothing to do with Handel, and everything to do with threatening Chambliss with obliteration for daring to work with Democrats on taxes and immigration.  Republicans want to make sure that nothing happens for the next two year, just like that last two.

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