Handel rips Gingrey, Kingston on earmarks

Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) is taking aim at two of her Georgia GOP Senate opponents on earmarks, criticizing Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston over federal dollars they helped secure. 

Handel's campaign passed out literature, obtained by The Hill, attacking the two over earmarks at a Saturday debate.

The piece says Kingston requested 145 earmarks worth $211 million in the three years before the House banned earmarks, while Gingrey requested 58 earmarks exceeding $94 million in that span.

She also alluded to the earmarks of Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, during her closing statement of an otherwise sleepy debate after attacking Gingrey, Kingston and Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) for failing to shrink the national deficit in their time in Washington.

"We have three members of Congress who are running and together they have 42 years in Washington. That's a lot of Washington, too much. Everything that they talk about tonight, they have had every opportunity to do. And they haven't — look at the results," she said in the debate. 

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"We have seen our debt over the past 20 years go from 4 trillion to 17 trillion. One congressman up here is talking about cutting 3 billion dollars while at the same time, he was looking for billions more in earmarks," said Handel. "That contributed 2 billion to a 17 trillion dollar debt that will bankrupt our nation if we don't stop it."

Handel has some statewide name recognition from her close primary loss to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in 2010. But she has struggled to raise money so far for this race, and is facing a crowded field that includes the three congressmen and wealthy businessman David Perdue (R).

Establishment Republicans are concerned about the primary — especially if Broun or Kingston wins.

Democrats have united around former charity CEO Michelle Nunn and are hopeful they can score an upset in the race if the GOP primary gets messy.

Handel graph