With just over one month to go until the runoff election, Republican Karen Handel‘s congressional campaign is in an unanticipated crisis mode
On May 2, Handel’s husband Steve shared an image on his Twitter timeline that asked voters to give their support to his wife in the U.S. House of Representatives race so that they can “free the black slaves from the Democratic plantation.”
Karen placed second of all 17 candidates in a special election April 18 and is headed toward a June 20 runoff election against Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The race is to replace the seat left vacant by former Rep. Tom Price in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Here’s what you need to know about Steve:
1. Handel’s Congressional Campaign Has Apologized For Steve’s Racist Retweet
According to CNN, Steve shared the above image in a quote-tweet on Twitter, passing along the tweet of another user who posted the image.
The image head a bright headline that said “Handel will fight for minorities to excel” and told voters to support his wife so that they can “free black slaves from the Democratic plantation.”
Steve wrote his own message in a tweet, urging his followers to “request your absentee ballot today” so they can vote for his wife.
Absentee voting for the district voters in runoff election started May 2.
The re-tweet has since been removed from his Twitter profile and his wife’s campaign immediately issued a statement apologizing for him using the social media platform to share the racist message. A spokesperson said he re-tweeted the racist image without realizing exactly what it was.
Like many of us, he (Steve) made a mistake and re-tweeted something he didn’t pay a lot of attention to, thinking it was just an absentee vote message. It clearly was not appropriate and has been deleted.
CNN reported that the image was first shared by Twitter user rose10052, an account that has a history of sharing controversial images and lending its support to the Handel campaign. That tweet has also been deleted.
2. Steve Runs Multiple Technology Companies
A report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution found that the Handels consistently earn “well into the six figures.”
That’s partly because Steve runs multiple firms, including the TechGov mobile technology company.
TextGov offers services for government employees for mobile devices. Those include providing citation reminders, juror updates and bill reminders.
His LinkedIn profile says he’s the president at Text-4-Profit where the company “works with clients to develop creative text messaging and mobile websites to increase revenue and improve profitability.” However, it appears that company has re-branded to become TextGov.
The couples’ income fluctuates over the years. But according to their 2013 tax return, they reported a joint income of $300,000. In 2012, they reported income of $265,000 and $129,000 in 2011.
3. Karen Describes Steve as Her ‘Prince’
Karen is a life-long conservative that was the former secretary of state for Georgia as well as the former senior vice president at Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
She also wrote a 2014 book titled Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines. The book offers a “full, up-close story of the battle between Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood.”
In the center of a crisis that was described as a “media firestorm” in 2012, Karen describes the role she played in the company.
In addition to her previous roles, she also gives speeches as part of the Premiere Speakers Bureau. In her biography on the company’s website, she calls Steve “a prince among men.”
The couple don’t have any children and reside in Roswell, Georgia with their dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Mia. Though a recent press release said that the couple now have two dogs of the same breed named Abbie and Sadie.
4. Steve’s Job Promotion Brought the Couple to Metro Atlanta
The couple got married in November 1992 and the started their professional careers.
For 15 years, Steve worked at Partner Networking Solutions. A job promotion within the company for Steve in 1994 moved the couple from rural Georgia to the metropolitan-Atlanta area.
After that, he held a number of jobs in the business field that ranged from consulting to management positions.
Steve left that job in 1999 to work as the director of business development for Oracle’s PeopleSoft. After that, he was the vice president of professional services at Ockham Technologies for a few months before working for three years at Computer Network Technology. He was the director of North American solutions consulting at the company and left in 2004 to become the director of professional services for Fiserv.
In 2006, he worked for Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a technology consulting manager. With a massive amount of business experience under his belt, Steve started his own venture in consulting. He formed Steve Handel LLC. and worked with AutoTrader.com to reduce its information technology spending by over $3.5 million, his LinkedIn claims.
5. Steve Is a Big Football & Golf Fan
Steve earned his associates degree from Waterbury State Technical College and then his bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Maryland in 1991, his LinkedIn said.
The couple had planned on having children, but it didn’t work out that way.
Karen said in her book that she wanted to become a mother, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We crossed the bridge together” to a life without children of their own, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in 2012.
She said that her and Steve “ultimately put their trust in God that a new path was being prepared” for the couple.
In his spare time, you can find Steve out on the golf course or at college football games. His Twitter profile is filled with images of him on the golf course and at his favorite, University of Georgia football games.