Handel believed she would be back in Bartow before the primary.
Her reason for joining the race for Saxby Chambliss’ empty seat, she said, was the political gridlock in Congress.
“For me, I know that only in America could someone with my background be able to run for United States Senate. I left home when I was 17 and moved out of a troubled home environment and I was able to finish up school and get a job in an extraordinary country,” she said. “I had great opportunity, and with the crushing debt, the continued sluggishness of the economy, the over-taxation, the over-regulation, that American dream, those opportunities for future generations are at risk.
“We need people in Washington who are going to have the guts and the resolve to do the job and make hard decisions that need to be made.”
Handel described herself as a problem solver who puts solutions before politics.
“I think it is about working on solutions and managing one’s politics after. I am a problem solver. That’s what I have done the bulk of my career and what I have found in elected that the best thing to do is to look at the facts, to look at what the issues are and then identify good solutions that actually … address that issue, solve that problem, then manage your politics second. We have people who, unfortunately, put their politics, their re-election, first and I think that’s a bad way to problem solve. A very poor way to problem solve,” she said.
In detailing her problem-solving efforts, Handel cited her time as secretary of state, when she cut the budget by 20 percent, adding that when she worked in Fulton County she faced a deficit “head on” and was able to deal with cuts instead of raising taxes by 3 mills.
“Every single year that I was chairman of the chamber, and I did that without the advantage of a Republican majority,” Handel added.
Like many other candidates in a variety of races, Handel said her priorities were the economy and jobs.
“It’s the economy, it’s jobs and it’s spending and debt and, of course, I call it the Obama healthcare tax — making sure that we first and foremost to get a majority in the House and Senate. [It] would give Republicans a much greater opportunity from a policymaking standpoint and moving forward with repealing and replacing that Obamacare tax with a patient-centered, market-driven healthcare reform initiative like HR 2300 that Congressman Tom Graves has sponsored in the house,” she said.
To address the budget and the debt, Handel said she supported a zero-based budgeting initiative.
“We need to drastically reform the budgeting process at the state level and it’s not particularly eye-catching work, but it’s sometimes a boring debate,” Handel said. “But if we were able to move to a two-year budget cycle, have zero-based budgeting, put every department and agency through that on a staggered basis, we really start to rein in the size of the federal government. Start looking at not just how much we’re going to spend, but why we’re spending these dollars.”
When asked about the movement in the Georgia Legislature to call for an Article V convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, Handel said she was supportive. She said she liked the ideas mentioned in the resolution, which includes a budget amendment and term limits.
“I also support term limits. Big proponents for term limits for the following reason: people who get to Washington and they stay there for the rest of their lives. These career politicians are the reason we’re in the mess that we’re in. I’ve said I’ll serve two terms. That’s it,” Handel said. “That’s 12 years. If I can’t get the job done in 12 years, then first of all voters should move me out anyway. Secondly, why should we expect that after that amount of time anything’s going to be different? I raised that question of other folks in the race. They’ve had 10, 20 years to do everything they’re talking about doing and they haven’t done it.”
Citing positive feedback while on the campaign trail, Handel said voters were interested in new leadership in Washington. As for concerns in the northwest Georgia area she may address if elected to the Senate, Handel cited the U.S. Highway 411 connector.
“Well I think, and it hasn’t specifically come from Bartow County residents, but there’s the obvious 411 connector issue, and making sure now that there’s been some, hopefully, resolution about a route, that expansion. Then to make sure that you’ll have a champion to move that along expeditiously,” she said. “Although, I certainly hope it doesn’t take until I’m sworn into office to get moving there.”
For more information on Handel and her campaign, visit www.karenhandel.com.