“You know, everybody that runs just about I’ve helped at one time or the other,” Everhart said. “I’m their friend, so it’s pretty hard even though you may think that one person is better for the job than another.”
One race Everhart is staying out of is the one to replace U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), who is also running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2014 by Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
“I’ve got so many friends in that 11th District that I just cannot do an endorsement, and it’s not that I didn’t have friends in this Senate race, but this Senate race is very important, as all of them are, but I really did do a lot of soul searching, and I really think that Karen is the better person for the job, I really do.”
Everhart said Handel has a record of cleaning up messes, whether it was working at the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners or as Secretary of State.
“She usually walks into a mess and cleans it up, and Lord knows Washington is a mess,” Everhart said.
Handel’s greatest challenge, Everhart believes, will be fundraising.
“Men seem to do better, and of course the three congressmen, they already have a war chest and she does not, and of course they all added to it, and the money she’s going to have to raise is hard money, which is hard to raise,” Everhart said.
But money isn’t everything as evidenced by former Gov. Sonny Perdue ousting former Gov. Roy Barnes from office, she said.
As for whether Gingrey will be upset that Everhart, a fellow Cobb Countian endorsed Handel over him, Everhart said, “I’ve always been a Gingrey supporter, but this time I decided that Karen was the best one for the job. I supported Gingrey and worked for him since he ran for Marietta school board. We really go back.”
Whoever wins the Republican primary next year should not under estimate Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.
“Michelle Nunn has not been in politics, but she’s been around politics all of her life, and she understands the political arena, and of course anybody under 30 doesn’t remember her father, but the people over 40 remember him well, and those are the people with the money, and those are some of the people that get out and vote, so he gets out his Rolodex and he will be a big help to her, so I think anybody that takes (Nunn) for granted is a fool,” Everhart said.
Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University who studies elections, believes the Senate race is wide open.
“Karen Handel has a chance to win it, yes, but I don’t see her having any particular inside track,” Swint said. “The Everhart endorsement may be seen as part metro-Atlanta Republican women sticking together, and part anti-Nathan Deal sentiment. To some degree, Handel is competing with political newcomer David Perdue for the non-incumbent outsider label. But Handel doesn’t have Perdue’s financial resources.”
Deal and Handel faced each other in the last Republican gubernatorial primary.
Swint said Gingrey and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) are vying for the tea party/Libertarian activists, while U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) “is trying to portray himself as the adult in the room.”
Kingston, Gingrey and Perdue will spend untold millions trying to get into the inevitable runoff.
Who comes out on top is anyone’s guess at this point, Swint said.
Today is the deadline for federal candidates to disclose third quarter fundraising numbers. Kingston has received more than $800,000 in contributions and has about $2.9 million in cash. Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, shows $810,000 in contributions. He also donated $500,000 of his own money to his campaign and made a $500,000 personal loan. At the end of the quarter, he had about $1.3 million in cash on hand.
Gingrey received just over $287,000 in the past three months, while Broun had about $280,000 in contributions. Handel reported about $286,000 in contributions.
The big difference among the three was in cash on hand. Gingrey, who along with Kingston was able to transfer a significant sum from his congressional campaign account, had about $2.5 million in the bank. Meanwhile, Broun had about $450,000 in cash and Handel had roughly $312,000.
The front-runner among Democrats is Michelle Nunn, who reported receiving $1.7 million in the first 10 weeks of her campaign.
Everhart was less than pleased by Jim Galloway’s Political Insider column in the AJC suggesting her endorsement amounted to “female bonding” as well as a swipe at Deal and a “hometown rejection of Gingrey.”
“No. 1, women don’t sit around spending their days talking about a vendetta,” Everhart said, noting that she worked hard to elect Deal and believes he’s done a good job in office.
“I did not know Nathan Deal was running for the Senate,” Everhart said. “Maybe Mr. Galloway knows something that I don’t know.”
Democrats are quick to point out that Republicans have declared war on women, Everhart said.
“Well, I happen to believe that Jim Galloway is very liberal and apparently would swing to the left, so this sounds like a war on women, that women cannot make a decision unless it’s about a woman friend, and he didn’t ask me, and I’m assuming he didn’t ask Mrs. Handel as to why I gave her an endorsement. And I really think he needs to get his facts straight before he goes to print. It is nothing against Nathan Deal and it is not a slap in Phil Gingrey’s face. I still appreciate Phil and I’ve liked him and have known him for years, and I think that Mr. Galloway wants to have the war on women not the Republicans.”
Councilman Grif Chalfant is countering Bank of North Georgia’s request with one of his own.
Rob Garcia, Bank of North Georgia president, has asked the city to guarantee the loan payments that the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. owes on a $4 million loan used to buy up properties across from the Hilton Marietta Conference Center.
The MRC has $273,000 in a money-market account left over from the original $2.1 million in seed money provided by the city.
Rather than use those dwindling dollars to make the $12,470 a month interest payment the MRC owes the bank, Garcia has requested the city pay the interest payments for the next 18 months, which would amount to $225,000.
The MRC’s executive director, Beth Sessoms, says the bank believes the MRC would not be able to pay off the $4 million it borrowed from the bank were it to sell off the properties today.
Although Mayor Steve Tumlin is not in favor of the deal, Chalfant has asked for time to negotiate with Garcia. Chalfant says he would agree to Garcia’s terms for the city to pay $225,000 for the interest payments and for the MRC to turn over the remaining $273,000 in its money-market account. But rather than the $498,000 sum covering the next 18 months in rent, as Garcia has proposed, Chalfant said it needs to cover the next four years. Chalfant believes four years will be enough time for property values to recover.
The City Council will take up the matter at its Economic/Community Development Committee meeting Oct. 30.
The 11th annual Cobb County Republican Women’s Club Veteran’s Celebration Brunch is Nov. 2. The social begins at 9 a.m. and the brunch at 10 a.m. The event will be at the Marietta Hilton Conference Center.
The Master of Ceremonies is Moby, Atlanta Country Music.com’s “Person of the Year 2008.” Former Naval aviator Shane Osborn is the keynote speaker. Reserve seats early as space is limited. Tickets may be purchased online at ccrwc.org or for more information, call (770) 265-4949.