Price had been the smart-money favorite to challenge the dominant personality in the race, his House colleague Paul Broun. That’s partly because Price represents a primary-vote-heavy North Metro Atlanta district, and partly because his voting record and general positioning are much like Broun’s, without so much Crazy.
But Price’s withdrawal creates a heaven-sent opportunity for another well-known potential GOP candidate, who is now rumored to be in the wings: former Secretary of State Karen Handel. Not only does Handel share Price’s metro Atlanta base, but her brief tour of ideological martyrdom as vice president of the Komen Foundation (which ended in 2012 when she was forced from the job after massive protests against the split with Planned Parenthood she engineered) has removed the blemish that probably cost her the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial nomination, the suspicion that she was not 100% antichoice (she opposed an effort to radically limit IV fertilization clinics in the state).
A Handel/Broun runoff, which looks like a decent bet at this stage, would be wild and wooly sho nuff.
But thanks to developments on the Democratic side, Handel’s likely entry sets up another interesting possibility as well.
Earlier this week U.S. Representative John Barrow announced he would not be running for the Senate in 2014, reportedly because he could not be guaranteed a cleared field for the Democratic nomination. That means the field probably would be cleared for another much-mentioned potential candidate, Michelle Nunn, a nationally renowned civic entrepreneur with a might handy last name (her father is former Sen. Sam Nunn, still a Georgia political legend).
I should disclose that during and after my work for Sam Nunn, I got to know Michelle, for whom I have a very high regard. She’s very smart, very savvy, and has a lot of charm and depth. But aside from what she represents in a Georgia Democratic Party desperate for new blood, you have to think ahead to a possible Nunn-Handel general election, in a state that has been very slow to elect women to Congress (none are currently in the 16-man Congressional Delegation, which returned to its traditional all-male composition when Cynthia McKinney lost a primary in 2006).
That would be a fun race, and one where even a Handel victory would have a silver lining in that the state which was first represented in the Senate by a woman (Rebecca Latimer Felton, an appointee who officially served for one day in 1922) would finally elect one.