In a one-two electoral punch that’s sure to amplify debates about reproductive rights, two vehemently anti-Planned Parenthood candidates claimed spots in upcoming statewide elections in Georgia and Virginia.
Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel announced Friday that she is running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Last February, in a highly publicized move, Handel resigned as senior vice president of public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure after the breast cancer group backtracked in its initial decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, amid a public outcry. Handel went on to publish a book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines About the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle With Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in which, as she writes on her campaign website, “She exposed the country’s leading abortion provider as a liberal political machine willing to destroy anyone or any organization to advance its agenda and secure the continued flow of nearly $1.5 million a day in government funding to its coffers.”
Handel joins three Georgia Republicans vying for the seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, all sitting members of Congress: Rep. Phil Broun (R-GA), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and self-identified “pro-life OB-GYN” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA). Democratic contenders are not yet set for the 2014 election.
In a party convention Saturday, Virginia Republicans selected Bishop E.W. Jackson as their nominee for lieutenant governor in this year’s election. Last September, Jackson posted a video to YouTube calling for African Americans to move away from the Democratic party, expressing opposition to gay rights and alleging that “Planned Parenthood has been more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was.”
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Jackson joins gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), who is currently attorney general of Virginia. Nationally known for his anti-choice priorities, Cuccinelli has compared abortion to slavery and is widely associated with stringent abortion clinic regulations adopted in April that have already caused one Virginia clinic to close. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Cuccinelli three points ahead of Democratic candidate Terry McAulliffe. The election will take place November 5.