Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District is about to hold an election to determine the new member of the House of Representatives.
The winner of this election will be replacing Tom Price, who earlier this year became President Donald Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services. There are 11 candidates on the Republican side, but the one who is leading in the polls is Karen Handel, the former secretary of state of Georgia.
So who is Karen Handel, exactly? Where does she stand on the issues? Here’s what you need to know.
1. She is Pro-Life & Wrote a Book About Defunding Planned Parenthood
Karen Handel is pro-life and supports defunding Planned Parenthood.
On her website, Handel says, “I am Pro-life and believe that life begins at conception. We have made significant strides in fostering a Pro-life culture. Still, more must be done. I am proud to be the only candidate in this race to be endorsed by Susan B. Anthony List, and I am also certified by the Georgia Life Alliance.”
She also supports defunding Planned Parenthood and wrote an entire book on this topic called Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In the book, Handel argues that Planned Parenthood is made up of bullies and liberal activists.
“It should concern all of us that an overly political interest group like Planned Parenthood receives nearly $500 million a year — that’s nearly $1.5 million each and every year– in government funding,” Handel says in the book. “…A corrupt triangle has been empowered: government money flows to Planned Parenthood; Planned Parenthood money is then used to attack its opponents and elect its friends; those friends funnel more taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood. Without their permission, the American taxpayers–that’s you and me–have turned into subsidizers not only of abortion but also of political propagandizing. This must end.”
Karen Handel is the former vice president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. In 2012, the foundation decided it would end its financial support for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings. After receiving backlash, the foundation reversed this decision, and Handel resigned.
In her resignation letter, Handel said that the decision to change the foundation’s policy was approved by a number of people and was not solely up to her.
“I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve,” she said, according to The New York Times. “However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology.”
2. She Supports Repealing Obamacare But Previously Lobbied for Essential Health Benefits
Karen Handel supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.
On her campaign website, Handel says that Obamacare is the single biggest intrusion on Americans’ lives in decades.
“Healthcare costs and insurance premiums have skyrocketed,” she says. “Obamacare must be repealed and replaced with market-based, patient-centered reforms.”
Referencing the GOP’s Obamacare solution, Handel says that this Paul Ryan plan “remains a work in progress, but it is on the right track.” However, she says that any Obamacare replacement must “treat Georgia and other states that did not expand Medicaid in an equitable way.”
While she was working for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Handel lobbied for Obamacare’s essential health benefits, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
However, Handel says that this lobbying does not suggest she was ever supportive of the health care law.
“Obamacare was passed months before my first day at Komen,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I thought it was bad legislation in 2010 and I support full repeal and replacement of the law today.”
3. She Is in Favor of Building a Wall Along the Southern Border
Karen Handel supports President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
“True national security means securing our borders,” she says on her campaign website. “The current immigration system is broken, and we MUST fix it.”
In addition to building a wall, Karen Handel says that the United States must enforce its existing immigration laws, improve the reliability of temporary visa programs, and create a viable guest worker program.
Recently, a Political Action Committee that supports Karen Handel promised that she would end Muslim immigration.
“If elected to Congress, she will work to build a wall on the border and end Muslim immigration,” the Save The American Way PAC said in a fundraising email, according to The Huffington Post.
Handel said that she has no relationship with this PAC and does not support ending Muslim immigration.
“Neither I nor my campaign have any connection to the organization or the people associated with the organization that sent this email,” Handel said in a statement to 11 Alive. “I support aggressive, legal and constitutional means to protect our country and secure our borders. I do not, however, support the use of a religious litmus test in determining an individual’s immigration status.”
4. She Wants to Lower Taxes & Cut Regulations
Karen Handel says that the economy has not rebounded more than it has because of high taxes and onerous regulations.
“Onerous, punitive regulations, costly red tape, and a complex tax structure with rates that are too high are limiting business expansion and job growth,” she says on her website. “And, wages have not yet fully recovered with many continuing to earn less than they did prior to the so-called Great Recession and still others who have given up on finding work altogether.”
She goes on to say that she will fight for a “fairer, simpler tax structure with lower rates for families and businesses.” She also says that she will work to pass legislation that would implement a rolling audit of all regulations agency by agency.
In another section of her website, Handel says she wants to simplify the tax code.
“I support a simpler, fairer, tax code that promotes economic growth, as well as reforms that promote the repatriation of overseas profits,” she said.
5. She Supports Strict Voter ID Laws
Karen Handel supports laws that would require Americans show photo identification before voting.
While she was Georgia’s secretary of state, Handel enacted a voter ID law. She also enacted a measure that checked a person’s citizenship before they registered to vote. This was controversial, and the Justice Department concluded that it “does not produce accurate and reliable information and that thousands of citizens who are in fact eligible to vote under Georgia law have been flagged,” according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.
She also shortly after taking office began to purge voter rolls, with tens of thousands of voters needing to prove their eligibility to vote again. The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division ordered Georgia to stop this procedure.
The Trump administration recently reversed federal support for a challenge to Texas’ voter ID law; on Twitter, Handel expressed support for the Trump administration’s decision, referring to Texas’ law as commonsense.