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Interview with Karen Handel, April 4, 2011

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:19 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics sponsored by the Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Karen Handel

00:00:48 - Early life / Early career

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Partial Transcript: You're a native of the Washington area.

Segment Synopsis: Handel discusses her youth in the Washington, D.C. area, moving out at age 17, the start of her professional career at Hallmark, and being hired to the office of then-vice president Dan Quayle.

Keywords: AARP; Alcoholic; Alcoholism; American Association of Retired Persons; County government; Dan Quayle; Deputy Chief of Staff; Frederick Douglass High School; Hallmark Cards Inc.; Marilyn Quayle; Race for the Cure; Ray Evans; Road work; Susan G. Komen Foundation; Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; White House

00:04:51 - Move to Georgia / Start of business career in the Atlanta area

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's see, I met my husband during that time...

Segment Synopsis: Handel describes moving to her husband's home state of Georgia and her work experiences at several Atlanta-area firms, culminating with a position at the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Keywords: Accounting; Bankruptcy; CIBA Vision; Delta Airlines; Embezzlement; Ethics; Finance; Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Glen Bradley; J. Neal Purcell; KPMG; Marriage; P&L statement; Profit and loss statement; Public affiars; Public relations; Timothy Barabe

00:08:55 - Election to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners

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Partial Transcript: Um, and it was during that time that I met Mike Kenn, who was chairman of the Fulton County Commission at the time...

Segment Synopsis: Handel speaks about her run for a seat on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, including her initial defeat and ultimate election as chairman of the commission.

Keywords: Buckhead; Chief of Staff; Conservatives; Democrats; Fulton County Commission; Fulton County, Georgia; Mike Kenn; Name identification; Non-partisan; North Fulton; Politics; Rob Pitts; Rob Simms; Shirley Franklin; Sonny Purdue; Special election; Television ads

00:13:10 - Rise of the Republican Party in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about political parties in Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Handel opines on the political and social elements that contributed to Georgia's move from a Democratic stronghold to a Republican-dominated state, and discusses how issues in K-12 education may eventually undermine Georgia's strong higher educational system.

Keywords: Budget; Citizens; Economy; Education; Electorate; Eric Tanenblatt; Fred Cooper; GOP; Grand Old Party; HOPE scholarship; Higher education; Issues; K-12 education; Legislature; Nick Ayers; Paul Coverdell; Policy; Political migration; Political parties; Political party; Ralph Reed; Redistricting; Russell K. "Rusty" Paul; State party perspective; Statewide office; Sue Everhart; Tax structure; Tom Price; UGA; University of Georgia; Voting record

00:18:02 - Influence of The Christian Coalition and The Tea Party in Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Ralph Reed; what role does the Christian Coalition play in Republican politics in Georgia today?

Segment Synopsis: Handel discusses the campaign against her gubernatorial run by Georgia's right-to-life element, despite her pro-life position, and the energizing effect of the Tea Party in the current political sphere.

Keywords: "Ultra-right"; Abortion; Balanced budget; Consolidation; Cost savings; Debt; Federal agencies; Federal deficit; Georgia Right to Life; John Adams; National Right to Life; Political platform; Poultry industry; Private sector; Pro-choice; Ralph Reed; Ray McBarry; Ring-wing; SBA List; Susan B. Anthony List

00:22:44 - Work as chair of the Fulton County Commission

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Partial Transcript: Let's get back to your service on, as chair of the Fulton County Commission.

Segment Synopsis: Handel describes her work on the Fulton County Commission, which was nearly broke when she took office, and how she and her staff turned the commission around.

Keywords: Budget Department; Cash reserves; Debt service fund; Duluth, Georgia; Economic downturn; End-game; Financial projections; Fiscal responsibility; Fulton County Commissioner; Joy Deal; Merger; Negotiation; Roswell, Georgia; Secretary of State; Spreadsheets; Steven Rapson; Tax increase; Transportation; United consortium

00:27:02 - Campaign for Georgia's Secretary of State

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Partial Transcript: So from the County Commission to Secretary of State.

Segment Synopsis: Handel speaks about choosing to run for Secretary of State rather than other political offices she considered.

Keywords: Bailiwick; Casey Kagle; Chuck Eaton; Diversity; Executive management; Female politicians; Fulton County Commission; General election; Lauren "Bubba" McDonald; Legislator; Lieutenant Governor; Political primary; Public Service Commission; Ralph Reed; Runoff; Sitting majority leader; Social issues

00:32:32 - Changes to voter laws in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about Secretary of State.

Segment Synopsis: Handel discusses the reform to voter laws she enacted while serving as Secretary of State.

Keywords: 2008 Presidential election; Absentee ballot; Cathy Cox; Department of Justice; Early voting; Election law; Georgia Supreme Court; Glenn Richardson; Hacking; Independent audit; Indiana; Justice Stephen Breyer; Legal appeal; Paper trail; Photo ID; Photo identification; Policy; Polls; Precincts; Security; Speaker of the House; Technology; Voter education; Voters; Voting Rights Act; Voting machines

00:40:38 - Accomplishments as Secretary of State

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Partial Transcript: What are some of the other things you did as Secretary of State?

Segment Synopsis: Handel describes some of the other changes she enacted during her time in office, including establishing the Office of Inspector General, the investigation into $7 million of missing funds at the Fulton County sheriff's office, and initiating a strong ethics protocol.

Keywords: Conflict of interest; Consumer protection; DeKalb Solicitor General; Dekalb County; Election fraud; Executive Branch; Firewall; Full disclosure; Fulton County Superior Court; Gift limits; Investigative authority; Jacqueline Harrison; Legislative Branch; Licensing Board; Licensing fraud; Mike Bowers; Open Records Act; Pension plans; Probable cause; Security fraud; Shawn LaGrua; State Elections Board; Transparency; Wes Taylor

00:49:03 - Handel's race for governor

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Partial Transcript: So I guess, uh, 2009--a race for governor.

Segment Synopsis: Handel speak about her decision to run for Governor of Georgia, which prompted her resignation as Secretary of State, and a contentious primary.

Keywords: Casey Kagle; Cathy Cox; Edward Lindsey; Eric Johnson; Faith; Glynn County, Georgia; God; Grassroots; Jeff Chapman; John Oxendine; Sandra Deal; Wendell Willard

00:56:30 - Campaign strategy in the gubernatorial race

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Partial Transcript: Well, let me as you a big, general question: How did you approach that race?

Segment Synopsis: Handel tells of her platform and campaign strategy, emphasizing her past ethics policies, her difficulty fundraising, and her endorsements from Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Jan Brewer.

Keywords: Atlanta metropolitan area; Campaign finance; Emma Darnell; Fundraising; Mass media; Media; Metro Atlanta; Nathan Deal; Real estate developers

01:02:19 - Losing the Republican primary / Women in politics

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Partial Transcript: So election day came, you were very excited, the vote came in: you were in a runoff.

Segment Synopsis: Handel describes taking first place in Georgia's primary election but ultimately losing to Nathan Deal in a runoff, and speak about John Oxendine's loss despite being an early favorite; she also discusses being one of the first two women in Georgia to run for governor.

Keywords: Election recount; Female politicians; Headlines; Ivy Oxendine; Likeability; Negative campaigning; Negative campaigns; Newspapers; Swing vote; Untruth

01:10:37 - Georgia term limits / Reflection on gubernatorial run and political career

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Partial Transcript: What do you think about these eight-year terms?

Segment Synopsis: Handel opines on the eight-year maximum service as governor and comments on her campaign strategy, professional and personal disappointments, and mentors; she further gives advice to young women interested in politics.

Keywords: "Poster girl"; Discipline; Ethics reform; Family; Intern; Internships; Local politics; Mike Bowers; Private sector; Randy Vaughn; Ray Evans; Roads; Roadworks; Ronald Reagan; Tactical strategy; Transportation; Vincent Russo; Wes Taylor

01:16:58 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: We like to close by having our guests tell us anything that we might have missed about you and your life and your career.

Segment Synopsis: Handel expresses gratitude for having the opportunity to run for governor and serve the State of Georgia, and concludes the interview.