What do you do after a spectacular public screw-up? If you're a Republican, you wear the screw-up as a badge of honor:
Karen Handel, the former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive who drove the charity's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, is considering running for U.S. Senate in Georgia, according to one of her former aides.Now, if you were a rational person, you might think that -- after an election in which a massive gender gap opened up, much of it driven by outrage at GOP assaults on Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights -- the last person who'd want to run for office is a high-profile Planned Parenthood hater, one who's called members of the organization "a bunch of schoolyard thugs." You'd think that just being forced to resign in disgrace from your last high-profile job would be a difficult resume line to explain away.
"She's considering it," Rob Simms, a Republican campaign consultant who worked on Handel's unsuccessful run for governor in 2010, told the Weekly Standard.
If she ran, she would be going up against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), whom Roll Call reported may be vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right, given his "willingness to reach across the aisle and his comfort with the idea of compromise."
... As a top executive at Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer charity in the country, Handel spearheaded the effort to stop sending breast cancer screening grants to Planned Parenthood. After a public uproar, Komen reversed its decision and Handel resigned....
But this is the Republican Party we're talking about.
Republicans love candidates they see as martyrs to the right-wing Cause. Remember who posed the most serious challenges to Mitt Romney down the 2012 primary homestretch: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Both had flamed out spectacularly years earlier, and seemed to be deluding themselves when they decided to run for president. But they could both portray themselves as having been crushed by the evil liberal juggernaut. (As I've said many times, I expect Allen West to be 2016's Santorum in the GOP primaries.)
The Weekly Standard suggests that Saxby Chambliss could face several primary challengers apart from Handel, all because of those sinister hints of bipartisanship, among them his recently announced willingness to buck Grover Norquist on the no-tax pledge (for which he's being referred to as #Taxby on Twitter). Georgia's a Deep South state, but Barack Obama suffered a single-digit loss there, so you'd think perhaps a little moderation might go over well with the overall voting public. But that's not how the GOP rolls, at least up to now. I bet every GOP Grover-bucker who's up for reelection in 2014 is toast, Chambliss included. And Handel seems like the just the kind of replacement the party's base would adore.