A leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia criticized a fellow primary opponent for having only a high school degree. David Perdue, a businessman and first-time candidate for office, was touting his experience and education to a group of voters in January when he made a reference to "a high school graduate in this race."
That candidate is Karen Handel, the former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate. Handel left an abusive home at age 17, according to her campaign, and finished high school. She never graduated from college.
"Look at the backgrounds. Look at the credentials. There's a high school graduate in this race, okay? I'm sorry," Perdue told a group of Republicans in Bibb County. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the video, which you can watch below:
Perdue went on to note that he is the only Republican candidate in the primary who has lived outside the United States, although Congressman Jack Kingston spent part of his youth in Ethiopia.
The Perdue campaign told the AJC in a statement that "David was simply making the case that he is the most qualified person in this race to help get our economy back on track so that we can start paying down the massive federal debt. His comment was based on facts that are a matter of public record.”
Handel's campaign responded with a statement from Julianne Thompson, co-chair of the Atlanta Tea Party. Here it is in part:
I am appalled at recent comments made by U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue against Karen Handel, regarding her childhood and for what he obviously considers to be a lack of pedigree to hold public office. One of the most important things we look for in a leader is that person's ability to identify with the citizens they intend to govern. Mr. Perdue should feel thankful he never had to suffer abuse as a child, so bad that he would have had to leave home at 17, like Mrs. Handel. He should feel thankful he could afford a college education and become a multimillionaire, and not have to spend his time working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. But it seems he can’t understand those things, because he is completely out of touch with ordinary Georgians—Georgians who do work those multiple shifts, who have overcome abusive childhoods, who could not afford a college education, but were able to rise above insurmountable odds and achieve the same success as David Perdue. But...apparently David Perdue does not believe that all citizens deserve that same opportunity to achieve The American Dream.
Handel has been behind Perdue and Kingston in recent polls, jockeying for third with congressmen Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey in the five-way primary. The primary will be held on May 20, and if no candidate receives 50 percent, the top two vote-getters will advance to a July 22 runoff. The winner of the GOP nomination will most likely face presumptive Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. Both parties are vying for the seat being held by retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss.