Opinion: Handel’s ‘uniquely American’ story finds its next chapter in Congress

Karen Handel and her husband Steve take the podium for her victory speech at her election night party, Tuesday. (AJC Photo / Curtis Compton)

Georgia’s 6th Congressional District has been dissected and analyzed every which way over the past four months. It’s the land of the educated, the affluent, the fiscally conservative but socially moderate. The labels were attempts to divine which candidate was best-positioned to win over voters in a close-fought special election.

But we the pundits left out one important characteristic: The 6th is also the land of not just second, but third political chances.

Before Karen Handel, who on Tuesday night became the district’s new congresswoman, there was Johnny Isakson: Lost a race for governor. Lost another for the U.S. Senate. Got one more crack at it in the 6th — his was a special election, too — and finally broke through.

Still, despite the example of Isakson, who now is one of the most beloved figures in Georgia politics and fittingly contributed an endorsement broadcast on Atlanta’s airwaves in recent weeks, surely there were moments when Handel thought this day, this victory, would never come for her?

“I really, after the (2014) Senate race, I was moving on,” she said in a late-Tuesday phone call. But, “in life, opportunities come, and you have to evaluate them when they’re in front of you.”

(Our conversation had to be put on hold in between those sentences of hers. Some fellow named Donald Trump was on the other line offering congratulations.)

“I can’t help but think,” she went on, “that as intense as this race became, the money, the scrutiny … that those other races, the other steps in my life, helped me to be prepared in this race.”

Such experience isn’t always deemed an asset in elections. Her opponent branded her a “career politician.” Others called her worse, some of it unprintable, but one of the labels they tried to pin on her was: loser. Keeps running, keeps losing.

Personally, I never saw Handel’s persistence in stepping into the arena as an unseemly inability to get the message that she wasn’t wanted. Rather, it seemed like the right kind of ambition: the kind born of knowing one has much to contribute, and has overcome long odds before.

Handel’s life story is well-known by now: left an abusive home at 17; finished high school; tried to balance college with supporting herself but, not uncommonly for the time, wound up choosing the latter; went on to success both in the public sector and the corporate world. It’s a story that merits our admiration, and more.

“Obviously, it’s a better feeling to be on the side of winning,” she reflected, “but I really … feel like it’s bigger than me. It’s not lost on me, the responsibility that comes with being the first Republican woman in Congress from the state. But equally, it is a message — a story, really, of resilience and ability to achieve by not letting the circumstances in which you grow up determine your future.

“That, I hope for a lot of people, can give them optimism. Because it really is uniquely American, that someone like me could be in this position; that could only happen in this country. So I understand how a person out there who’s struggling will look at this.”

That kind of story, of long odds overcome and second or third chances seized, is one both sides of the political aisle tell ourselves to celebrate. For once, we’re both right.

Reader Comments 0

129 comments
SGTGrit
SGTGrit

So we have Mr. Spittooie, (don't know the correct spelling of his name nor do I care)  of Canada by years sooner from Tunisia. They say he was self radicalized. Bull shyte, there is no such thing as self radicalization it must be influenced from somewhere or someone. Mr. Spittooie, decided to depart Canada and travel to Flint, Michigan where he plunged a 12 inch bladed knife into the neck of an innocent security guard at the Flint airport. The young prime minister Justin Trudeau, must be served notice that the Canadian government must do a much better job of vetting foreign nationals seeking sanctuary in Canada or we'll be forced to take strict entry action on our borders with his country.

breckenridge
breckenridge

And so Trump today admitted he lied about having tapes of his conversations with James Comey.  It's not a big deal though, nobody believed him in the first place.


What is a big deal, however, is Trump abdicating his responsibilities as Commander In Chief on Afghanistan decisions. If he doesn't want to be Commander In Chief then why in the hell did he run for president in the first place?

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


The generals have a strategy in place but its on the battlefield. The president needs to think diplomatically and long term. I don't see us getting out of Afghanistan anytime soon hence we will start questioning why we are even there to begin with. As more soldiers lose their lives, the more Trump will have to answer to.  

breckenridge
breckenridge

@McGarnagle @breckenridge 

It is up to the Commander In Chief to set troop levels.  The generals want more troops? Okay, have some meetings, let them make their case, get advice from you advisers, and then make a decision.  But that's not what's happening here. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge  Well that's your ignorance of the American chain of command structure. Orders come from the top of the chain and the implementation is delegated down through the chain. You wouldn't have a battalion commander micromanaging tactical implementation of orders that are at the level of his company commanders or a company commander micromanaging tactics at the platoon, squad, fire team level. The success of our military is largely due to a decentralized chain of command where many of our past and present adversaries have a more centralized structure. Trump's decision as commander and chief  is very much in keeping with that decentralized chain of command.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  Final approval/disapproval comes from the Commander and Chief. The decisions are made at military command level. The civilian President and commander and chief needs to rely on the judgement of his military commanders if the president can't rely on a commander than that commander needs to be replaced. You've never served so you're only going by what you think the relationship should be not as it should be. Trump, did the correct thing in his decision to delegate and retired senior military officers agree.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The Senate healthcare bill is dead on arrival. At least 3 republican Senators will not support it in its current form.

Gee, that didn't take long.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


Unfortunately they don't support it because it doesn't go far enough. I think eventually this will pass, maybe not before summer recess. But in August.

CarolSN
CarolSN

Kyle, I really like your description of Karen as a uniquely American story. Not quitting, even in the face of great odds, is at the heart of who she is and one reason I have supported her through both her victories and her defeats.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Tim Ryan is saying that the Democrat brand is toxic. Another pointed to a party leadership of 80 and 90 year olds and that Democrat congress looked like an assisted living community. Ouch...the fracture in the Democrat party is expanding. Will Pelosi, Bernie, Hillary, Bill, Elizabeth Warren, Biden et all be tossed on the trash heap. Who are the Democrat up and comers? Can't look to Ossoff as one as he now carries the loser label.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit


Tim Ryan is a good candidate. But the Ossoff lost is definitely a wake up call. Frankly I see alot of good happening with the lost than if he had won. There are always candidates to step up for the older ones, they just need that opportunity.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit

Bernie and Fauxahontas are pulling the Dems more to the Left.

Bernie has a lot of backers who IMO will not abandon him.  Warren brings more.

So the younger crowd trying to dump Bernie and the Princess would likely result in a split of the party and no more wins until they both give up and come back together - there is no way going more to the Left as 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle @SGTGrit  The Republicans are not in the best of shape. They have this habit of sometimes snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory as they appear to trying to do now. The Democrats I believe have an even worse problem. They think they can get back on track by merely attacking Trump and trying to block everything he's trying to do. Strategically that won't work short or long term. The public gets turned off.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit @McGarnagle


Attacking Trump is an effective strategy as attacking Obama was for republicans. Once he has a record to defend, he will have alot of explaining to do.

Linda
Linda

Instead of applauding Handel's uniquely American story, I'd think that it isn't unique at all, the same formula that brought us Trump. Racism, dishonesty, homophobia aren't unique, they're just rampant.


Isakson is beloved?  For his knee jerk party line voting, hiding from his constituents?  He ignored the majority of Georgians and voted for Devos.  Being wheeled onto the Senate floor to cast the deciding vote against women's health? I could go on and on about what he stands for, but he doesn't stand for me.

bu22
bu22

@Linda http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/06/some_people_hate_trump_more_people_hate_liberals.html 

"...After the initial glum reaction of pundits to Handel's win came the excuses.  It was the weather, it was the big GOP advantage in registration, it was early voting, it was Republican outsiders, it was history, it was counter-historical, Ossoff wasn't liberal enough, no unions, blacks didn't turn out, and the most common complaint from the left about ordinary voters...

The people refused to vote "their interests."

All of those excuses fail to get to the crux of why the left keeps losing.  Ordinary Americans simply don't like leftists very much.  And when Hollywood and Silicon Valley unite to tell them they are stupid, are ignorant, are racist, are homophobic, hate Muslims, and shouldn't love America so much, what do they expect the reaction from ordinary people will be?

Republicans are not representatives of the people any more than Democrats are.  But they speak the language of the ordinary voter and usually don't put them down.  The coastal elites who run the Democratic Party and liberal establishment cannot disguise their contempt for ordinary Americans.  In Georgia's 6th District, that smug, self-righteous sense of superiority played about as well as one might expect.

Until the Democrats can learn to mask their hatred of the hoi polloi, ordinary people will hate them more than they hate Trump and the Republicans."




BTC
BTC

@bu22 @Linda  "...and shouldn't love America so much"      No idea where that comes from.   Sheesh.

breckenridge
breckenridge

It's time for me to run along so I will leave you with these words of wisdom.......


If you have your health, you have everything. But if you are obese then you are not healthy and you'll be dead soon.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

I dare say it's a reach for those who say the death of Nabra Hassanen meets the legal definition of a hate crime.

The attacker was an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. Though El Salvador has a small Muslim population, I'm not aware of any conflict between Salvadorans and Muslims.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2


If she was targeted for her religious affiliation. Its a hate crime. Although reading the NPR article, it seems more like a road rage incident or the attacker was emotionally unstable.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Yahoo ran a funny article showing a bunch of long faces at the CNN desk when they found out that Handel won and Ossoff lost.

The most interesting part of the article can be found in the comments section which reveals why the Democrats keep losing elections.  It turns out that Joe Six-Pack isn't a big fan of illegal immigration, refugees who hate our way of life, welfare queens and men who want to use the ladies room.  Nor are they buying onto the Trump/Russia connection.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/2bf650cd-49ed-3c97-a31b-9c68b6340e8f/ss_look:-photo-of-cnn-pundits.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Bruno2

You have a funny way of showing your socially liberal,freedom loving bona fides, Brun!

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Bruno2


"The most interesting part of the article can be found in the comments section"


Uh. I wouldn't put too much weight on anonymous comments posted on a website.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@McGarnagle @Bruno2 

"I wouldn't put too much weight on anonymous comments posted on a website."

Including yours??  ; > }

To be honest, I think the Democratic Party would benefit if they paid more attention to places like the yahoo comment section in which people express their true opinions.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Bruno2

Hopefully, their use of identity politics has run its course.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Bruno2 @McGarnagle


Including yours too. And on and on we go. Point is its an echo chamber in these comments section. And folks express themselves unfiltered without thought or reasoning. I read the most ridiculous thoughts on these or any comments section. They shouldn't be taken too seriously.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2 @Bruno2


Handel's "He is not one of us" ads and the San Francisco ads. Are they not also identity politics?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Bruno2 @McGarnagle Why capitalization matters: I read "yahoo comment section" to mean something totally different before I realized you meant "Yahoo comment section" ...

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@McGarnagle @FIGMO2 @Bruno2

Not in my opinion. 

Identity politics the dems practice is an effort to disunite the American electorate.

Handel's "He is not one of us" sought to disassociate from the D.C. elites funding his campaign.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2 @McGarnagle @Bruno2


They seem the same to me. Pitting one group (Ossoff supporters) against another. Unless you bring up policy differences, the "Not one of us" slogan is identity politics. Either you identify with us or you don't belong here.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

Oh Kyle. I'm not projecting. I'm pointing out human nature. 


Bill and Hillary are likewise a uniquely American success story, coming up from broken families in rural / lower economic strata situations and whatnot. As is Obama. Heck, John Kerry is a war hero. 


Just depends on your world view whether someone is to be celebrated or attacked though.  

bu22
bu22

@DeepStateDawg Hillary is not the least bit underprivileged.  Now Bill grew up as the "white trash" that the Democratic party so hates nowadays.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The details of the Senate healthcare bill are out. Like the House bill, it cuts off Planned Parenthood funding for one year.


No real fiscal conservative would ever support this.

Astropig
Astropig

Agree completely with the tone here. I felt that KH would be a pretty weak candidate to run against Ossoff if she won the primary.She certainly didn't strike me as being a fresh new voice for Republicans.She had a lot of miles on her,politically.But...


..She ran a much better campaign than I expected.I think that she and her team correctly deduced that this election would be a battle between the most vocal elements in both parties and trying to appeal to "moderates" would be a waste of time (as Ossoff decisively proved). She found her theme and stuck with it and managed to unite a coalition that I frankly didn't think that she could unite.Kudos to her.Well played.Well played, indeed.


Ossoff,on the other hand,will become the answer to a Georgia politics trivia question.He's further proof that trying to win votes in the middle of the road will just get you run over.


One thing that I haven't seen mentioned in all of this is that this race really undermines a Democrat talking point of the last few years-Citizens United. Ossoff's loss gives lie to the idea that nearly unlimited amounts of money can buy an election.The Dems set a match to 30-35 Million and have bupkis to show for it.Maybe that will wake them up to the fact that their message just isn't working.Time for some fresh ideas and younger voices in the D party.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Astropig


Money may not get a candidate elected like it once did but it can still buy plenty of votes from politicians. So the problem with unlimited amounts of money in politics remains.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Astropig

Your last paragraph is a load of poppyco(c)k.  Hillary Clinton proved that money alone can't buy elections. And Carly Fiorina proved it before her. But you miss the core problem with Citizens United and that is the extent to which it has perverted the notion of "free speech" and given undue influence in the exercise of free speech to moneyed interests. It is deleterious and harmful to all of us.

breckenridge
breckenridge

“They have phony witch hunts going against me." Donald Trump, speaking in Iowa, 6-21-2017


Not real witch hunts.  Fake witch hunts. 


I suppose that's sort of like fake news........

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@breckenridge


Learn this a long time ago. You can't hold Trump accountable for the words he says. As for everyone else in a position of leadership. Yes.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

A Canadian soldier in Iraq has killed an ISIS militant from more than two miles away, shattering the world record for a confirmed sniper kill in military history.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/06/22/report-canadian-sniper-kills-isis-fighter-2-miles-away/418889001/

“The shot in question actually disrupted a Daesh [Islamic State] attack on Iraqi security forces,” a military source — who requested anonymity because the unit’s operations are classified — told the paper. “Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didn’t have a clue what was happening.”

The 3,450-meter shot, which took about 10 seconds to reach its target, was independently verified by a video camera and other data, the source said. 

Congratulations to the unnamed sniper!

When can we see the video?


breckenridge
breckenridge

@FIGMO2 

Does Canada have a plan, secret or otherwise, to defeat ISIS? If so, Donald Trump would love to hear more about it since he has no plan of his own.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@breckenridge @FIGMO2

All I know is they're sending more Special Forces into Iraq. They obviously think there's something worth fighting against over there.

As to your other "point"?

I can't recall what Andy does for a living, nor do I care to speculate.

All I know is that he keeps you, PeeWee, and a couple of others here, hoppin' mad.

It's a gift!


McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@FIGMO2 @breckenridge


AndyMan posts some ridiculous things that would get anyone hopping mad. I choose to mostly ignore them.


As for Trump plan's defeat to ISIS, he will not tell us because he wants to be a secret. 


Also Iraqi special forces are doing most of the grunt work. Good for them, they are now in a position to defend themselves and (hopefully) defeat ISIS. Something that required us to withdraw our troops. Obama took alot of heat for that but now we are reaping the benefits.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@breckenridge @FIGMO2

Sorry to burst your bubble, felicia, but IReport doesn't make me mad. His stupidity can be humorous at times. At other times it causes one to lament the sorry state of humanity.