Karen Handel, Republican candidate for Governor of the State of Georgia, has picked up the endorsement of former Massachusetts Governor and one-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Handel had already picked up endorsements from former half-term Alaska Governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as well as xenophobic Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Her opponent in the August 10 primary run-off election, former Rep. Nathan Deal, is backed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented Georgia’s sixth congressional district for two decades. The eventual GOP nominee will face former Gov. Roy Barnes in the general election.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin issued one of her typically cliched "tweets," saying Handel was going to "‘Bring it on' in a runoff against career politician!" Handel continues the "career politician" theme in her latest television ad, contrasting the two candidates in the run-off as "One carries a purse, the other carries baggage." She's also started a line of attack about his age, referring to Deal as a “Corrupt Relic.” She made a vague attack on him earlier by saying he “forgot” something, but it was likely because he was just “tired.”
But Deal continues to define himself as the only conservative left in the race. He is framing the run-off campaign as being conservatives versus non-conservatives in the party, and has made no question about where he and Handel fall on the spectrum.
Handel was the only Republican candidate in the primary not endorsed by the Georgia Right to Life PAC and Melanie Crozier, the PAC's director, said that her organization will back Deal in the run-off. In a particularly ugly move, Crozier wrote an article in Politico that claimed "[Palin] has a son with Down syndrome, and under Karen Handel’s laws, Handel would have felt like it was OK to go in and abort that child." Ouch.
Handel has denied the claim.
This is wedge politics, in which each side tried to drive a wedge between the other candidate and their constituents, and in this case, their endorsers. This is the self destruction of the Republican Party, and it's not only happening here in Georgia. Elsewhere, wingnut favorite Michelle Bachman has gotten herself in trouble for endorsing an out-of-state candidate who was not hand-picked by the Tea Party movement.
This is getting ugly, and it can only work to the benefit of the Democrats and the Obama Administration. And that's a good thing.