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Right now the news is breaking across the state that Karen Handel is resigning as Secretary of State to focus solely on the gubernatorial race. Atlanta media outlet WSB just broke the news despite an alleged 2pm embargo on the story.
Given all the ethical issues of the guys sticking around relating to fundraising and all the issues they are trying to raise attacking her for overseeing the primary and general election while being a candidate for Governor, this takes some serious news stories out of commission over the next few months.
With Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson and Handel both giving up their seats so they can both raise money and avoid sticky ethical issues, this puts the spotlight squarely on State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine who is about to come under a sustained media assault for questionable fundraising practices through his office.
Handel is now all in with no fall back just as a few of her opponents were starting to push out stories that she was going to drop out and run for re-election instead. She is also, given all the stories lately about the taint within the GOP, setting up a higher ethical standard for the gubernatorial race.
Her press release is below the fold.
I have spoken to Governor Perdue and informed him that I will resign as Secretary of State by the end of the year.
This was an extraordinarily difficult decision – professionally and personally. However, I know that it is the right one – for the Office of the Secretary of State, the team there, and the citizens of Georgia who have entrusted me with this important position, as well as for my campaign for Governor.
Over the past month, Georgia’s economic climate has continued to deteriorate, and we’ve all experienced disbelief and anger over the actions of some in the State Legislature. As I’ve considered this new landscape, it became clear to me that, while certainly manageable, serving as Secretary of State while also running for Governor was no longer the best approach for the office or my campaign.
I also took into consideration that I did not want any perceived conflicts of interest concerning my overseeing the primary or general elections, investigating complaints that arise, and certifying the results of the elections while a candidate for Governor and serving as Secretary of State.
Georgia’s next Governor must be a real leader with solid, conservative principles, a vision for our state, and the executive/business management experience needed to actually run our state and achieve meaningful progress on the issues we face.
Our next Governor must also have a commitment to ethics reform that is beyond question and a track record of ethical leadership. These are the reasons I decided to run for Governor, and they are the reasons that I am going to win.
So, as we enter the new year, the people of Georgia need to know that I am all in for the Governor’s race. This decision allows me to focus 100% on becoming the Republican nominee and winning the election in November.
This decision allows the Governor to appoint an interim Secretary of State to focus completely on the important issues in the agency, including the ongoing situation with the US Department of Justice involving Georgia’s voter verification process and overseeing the 2010 elections.
The next Secretary of State will have the benefit of a team of very talented individuals who will continue to serve the office – and the State – with the same level of commitment and dedication that I have appreciated for three years. I am confident that the transition will be smooth, and the people of Georgia will be well served by this team and whomever the Governor appointments to lead them.
Finally, I want to thank the people of Georgia for their trust and confidence in me to serve as their Secretary of State. My thanks, as well, to the tremendous team within the Secretary of State’s office for their commitment and hard work.