Earlier this week, Georgia businessman David Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), launched a Senate exploratory committee ahead of his own expected run.
Georgia Republicans had not expected Handel to enter the race this week, but Perdue’s announcement appears to have forced her hand, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
A former vice president for policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Handel earned national headlines last year when she resigned her position after the breast cancer charity reversed a decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Handel had favored cutting the group's funding for Planned Parenthood.
“The biggest problems we face today are in Washington, and that's where we so desperately need fresh thinking, bold solutions, and real leadership,” Handel said in her statement.
“Out of control spending has left us with a crushing debt. It's time to deal with it and stop kicking the can down the road -- this cannot be the legacy we leave to future generations.”
Democrats have yet to attract a candidate to the race.
Rep. John Barrow, who many Democrats believed represented the party's best chance to pick up the seat, has decided not to run. Some Democrats are now urging Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), to mount a campaign amid some favorable internal polling.
“The divisive Republican primary appears to get more volatile by the day and is certain to produce a nominee that is too extreme for mainstream Georgians," Justin Barasky, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
"We are confident we will have a strong candidate that will excite Democrats and provide independents and moderate Republicans with a strong, reasonable alternative to the extremism from Republicans.”
Cameron Joseph contributed