Georgia Republican Karen Handel agreed with a constituent that Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath needs to 'get off of it.'
Karen Handel, the GOP nominee in the race for a competitive House seat in Georgia, was caught on video saying her opponent, Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath, needs to "look at issues beyond" her dead son.
Video of the Handel making the remarks was obtained by the American Independent Foundation.
Handel is running in a rematch against McBath, a freshman Democrat who was inspired to run for Congress after the Parkland, Florida, high school mass shooting in 2018 and after her Black son, Jordan Davis, was murdered at the age of 17 in 2012 by a white man angry that Davis and his friends were playing loud music in their car.
McBath defeated Handel for the seat in Georgia's 6th Congressional District in 2018. During the campaign, she ran ads highlighting her personal story and how it had sparked her interest in serving in Congress.
At a Handel campaign event in the district on Saturday, as seen in the video, an unidentified supporter complains about McBath talking about her son, saying she should "get off of it" because "she's not the only one that has a tragic story."
"Exactly, exactly — that's right," Handel says. "In Congress, you have to be able to look at issues beyond just your person."
In addition to working on issues that include prescription drug pricing and global humanitarian crises in Congress, McBath has worked on gun control issues, co-sponsoring H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which passed the House but has languished in the Senate as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take it up.
McBath started her advocacy as one of the "Mothers of the Movement," a group of Black women whose children died in police custody or as a result of gun violence. She also spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 about her son's murder.
"I lived in fear my son would die like this," McBath said then. "I even warned him that because he was a young Black man, he would meet people who didn't value his life."
McBath told the American Independent Foundation, "Karen Handel's assertion that fighting to protect our families after the death of my son is just a 'personal issue' is appalling to not only me, but to every family in my district. After my son was murdered, I stood up for my neighbors and to demand that our legislators protect our families. After the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, I made the decision to run for office because our legislators were not doing enough to keep our families safe."
Handel's campaign said that in the video, "Karen is CLEARLY saying that McBath's personal story is tragic, and she understands why McBath's passionate about gun issues, but that the 6th District of Georgia needs a representative who can talk about a range of issues important to the district."
"McBath is a one issue congresswoman and a one issue candidate. Period," the campaign stated.
This is not the first time Handel has brought up McBath's son during the campaign.
Last June, Handel said McBath only won in 2018 because of the "emotion" voters felt over her son's death.
"Now she won't be able to run on emotion," Handel said at a town hall. "She will have to own her record."
Georgia's 6th Congressional District is one of the most competitive House races this cycle, with the Cook Political Report currently labeling it "Democratic Toss Up." The nonpartisan Inside Elections says the contest tilts Democratic.
The suburban Atlanta district voted for Donald Trump by a 2-point margin in 2016. However, the district is trending bluer as suburban voters turn against Trump.
McBath defeated Handel in 2018 by just 1 point.
Updated with comments from the offices of Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Republican candidate Karen Handel's campaign.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.