Who Is Karen Handel? Jon Ossoff's Republican Rival Is Less Feminist
If you saw the winning Republican's name and thought that maybe both runoff candidates down in Georgia vying for the empty House seat were at least female-friendly, think again. In the Georgia special election, Karen Handel will be facing off against Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in June. But if you're a person who wants women to have reproductive rights, then the woman is not who you'll be voting for in this race.
Handel picked up just under 20 percent of the vote in the first round of the Georgia special election on Tuesday, earning her the Republican spot in the runoff against Ossoff, who got 48.1 percent. Ossoff may look like he has a commanding lead now, but without any Republican candidates running against Handel, she'll certainly have enough conservative support to give him a run for his money. And because of some of her hardline conservative viewpoints, it's very important for those who support women's reproductive rights that Karen Handel does not win this race.
Handel's first venture into public life came when she was working at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer charity organization, as the Vice President of Public Policy. Komen decided to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood for breast exams — and once people started looking into that seemingly strange decision, it turned out that one executive had been the driving force behind it: Karen Handel.
Komen did not withdraw their funding from Planned Parenthood in the end, and low-income women who needed breast exams could keep receiving them, thanks to Handel not getting her way. Handel didn't drop the issue there, however. She resigned from Komen, claiming that the initial decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood was not solely up to her, and then used her free time to write a book attacking Planned Parenthood. And now, she's got endorsements from multiple anti-choice groups to show for it.
Handel is well aligned with the right-wing of the GOP on a number of other issues as well. As Georgia's Secretary of State, she tried to force voters to prove their citizenship in order to vote. This led to a lawsuit, which Handel lost. She also wants to repeal Obamacare, build the wall, and cut regulations — so basically, she'd fit right in with all of President Trump's designs.
Still, Handel has tried to distance herself from Trump, saying that she'd support the Republican president but telling the Associated Press that her "job is not to go to Congress as a rubber stamp for anybody." Considering how important this election is as a sort of measurement for how both parties are doing in the Trump era so far, she'll most likely still be receiving all kinds of support from the president — whether she wants it or not.