Handel follows DeVine advice: Rejects automatic recount, concedes race to Deal before Noon [updated]

[update, Noon, August 11, 2010 – from the Political Insider]

The statement just arrived from her campaign:

I want to thank all of my friends, supporters, volunteers and my campaign team for a tremendous effort over the last 16 months. We ran a terrific campaign, beat the odds to come in first place in the Primary, and came so very close in the runoff election.

As of this morning, we are four tenths of a percentage point behind Nathan Deal with absentee ballots and overseas military votes yet to be counted.

We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount. But we are not going to do that.

The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes. Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.

I spoke with Nathan this morning and let him know that I endorse his candidacy and look forward to the fight against Barnes. I have also called on all who were supporting me to give their same commitment and energy to Nathan.

[end update]

Forcing a recount only risks alienating more GOP voters

Karen Handel went negative early and hard and lost her tea partier appeal. That is the Gamecock’s view from his Stone Mountain of Georgia roost (pictured).

That is why she trails by 2489 votes out of 578,671 in the Republican gubernatorial nomination run-off with 99% of precincts reporting. Given the less than 1% margin, Georgia’s Secretary of State is fully aware that she is entitled to a recount.

Handel should reject the recount option and concede defeat.


Because the only way she could be the GOP’s nominee to face former Governor Roy Barnes in the Fall is as the winner of a recount “reversal”, which would cost her more votes from bitter Deal supporters that stay away from the polls, than she can afford to shed in November.

A recount that somehow found mistakes in the initial counting of over so many votes would seem “fishy” and lessen the enthusiasm even more for a candidate that gave away her tea partier momentum by going negative first with unproven allegations that her opponent is “the most corrupt politician in Washington.”

We bemoaned the ad at the time and continued to support the only candidate with the guts to promise non-teacher education cuts, especially given the equally negative and unproven ads of Deal. But who could blame Deal for defending his good name? (Click here for all our columns on this race)

Handel was on her way to vanquishing three establishment Peach State politicians before Sarah Palin uttered the name “Karen Handel” in public. She was the tea partiers’ favorite. Then, she blew it. Her only chance to make a strong comeback is to show graciousness in defeat. You don’t do that by forcing a recount knowing that a reversal of so many votes would leave her victory tainted and disable her and the party’s chances in the general election.

Election Day 2010 is setting up as a “wave election” for Republicans due to the failure of the ObamaDems in D.C. to get the economy moving and due to federal and executive overreach on bailouts, health care and gargantuan deficits.

But the GOP candidate to succeed their term-limited Republican Sonny Perdue in the State House must face another former governor generally seen as a success in his first term and who is untainted from primary fights.

Now, no matter the outcome of any recount, Barnes opponent will not be one with enthusiastic tea partier support.

Given those dynamics, if Karen Handel wants to maximize the chances of Republican control when post-census re-districting takes place, she should limit the damage she has already wreaked by conceding defeat today and endorse Nathan Deal for Governor.

Mike DeVine

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

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