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28 December 2009

Albany Herald Praises Handel's Decision To Resign

Last week, the big political news across Georgia was Karen Handel's decision to resign as Secretary of State. In an emailed statement to supporters, Handel said her resignation was partly because she did not want any "perceived conflicts of interest" concerning her role as the state's chief elections official while also being a candidate for governor.

The campaign of John Oxendine, who is competing against Handel for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination, attacked the Fulton County Republican for allegedly "placing her political ambition over her solemn obligation to the people of Georgia." [Crawley, Paul (2009-12-22). Georgia Sec. of State Handel Resigns Early. WXIA-TV. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.] Others, however, have applauded Karen Handel's decision to resign including Democrat Michael Mills and the Albany Herald Editorial Board.

Whether it was mostly for pragmatic campaign reasons or primarily because of ethical concerns, Karen Handel has done the right thing by announcing she’ll step down as secretary of state by the end of the month to focus on her campaign for governor.

As secretary of state, Handel is the state’s chief elections officer. Whether she could make any decisions that would appreciably impact the gubernatorial race in her favor is debatable, given the fish bowl in which she would be functioning. But she correctly noted that her job of overseeing elections, handling campaign complaints and certifying elections results could lead to the perception that some issue was handled unfairly.

By taking the possible conflict out of play before it can occur, Handel has done the state a service, but she has also given her campaign a boost.

Her decision to resign is in the best interest of Georgians, but it also is in her best political interests.

Albany Herald Editorial Board (2009-12-26). Handel resigning. Albany Herald. Retrieved on 2009-12-28.

In 2006, then-Secretary of State Cathy Cox faced calls to resign, and ultimately was accused of using her office to bolster her gubernatorial campaign.

Republican Karen Handel appears to have learned the lessons from the failed campaign of Democrat Cathy Cox.