Karen Handel gets backup from U.S. Chamber in 6th District race

Republican Karen Handel. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Another high-powered Republican group is ready to unleash a wave of advertisements for Republican Karen Handel ahead of her June 20 runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce formally endorsed Handel on Tuesday in a press conference in Alpharetta, a move that seems destined to lead to a new media barrage supporting her bid to represent the suburban Atlanta district in Congress.

 



 

The move was no surprise. Handel once led the chamber’s north Fulton offshoot and the organization has long backed conservative candidates in key races. But it was more evidence that Handel has consolidated GOP support after vicious Republican infighting in last week’s runoff. The chamber, after all, spurned Handel in her 2014 U.S. Senate run, instead backing then-Rep. Jack Kingston with more than $2.3 million in advertising support.

A bigger sign of the circling-of-the-wagons: President Donald Trump will hold a fundraiser for Handel on Friday in Atlanta.

Chamber political director Rob Engstrom and his staff declined to discuss how much cash they’ll pump into the race, which has fast become a proxy battle for national Democrats and Republicans. But suffice to say their endorsement wasn’t simply symbolic.

At the event, Engstrom said Ossoff also sought their support “but frankly I’m not sure why. Because our job is to defend American free enterprise, and he stands with an avowed socialist.”

Ossoff’s campaign didn’t immediately comment.

Handel also took a shot at Ossoff’s pledge to turn the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb, into a Silicon Valley of the South.

“Perhaps if he lived in the district, he might know this is the hub of technology for the state of Georgia, right here in the 6th District,” she said.

(Ossoff lives south of the district with his girlfriend, who is finishing up medical school at Emory University. He has said he’ll move to the district when she graduates.)

The 6th District race is shaping up to be the most expensive House race ever. Outside groups and the two parties are pouring money and resources into the suburban Atlanta district, which is seen nationally as a litmus test for Trump’s support.

Read the latest 6th District news: 

How the 6th District went from red to purple

Yes, Georgia Democrats believe they can take the Sixth District. And Republicans should, too

Why Georgia’s Ossoff-Handel runoff could be costliest House race ever

DeKalb officials demand new early voting sites for 6th District runoff

Handel raises more than $1M a week after 6th District vote


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