Tim Chitwood

Vote for Goober Natorial

Blip-test your gay-dar, because homosexuality’s back in Georgia political news.

Lately you may have had other things on your mind — unemployment, home foreclosure, heat stroke, etc. So why not chill out, check the mail and relax with a little gay marriage?

It has become an issue in Tuesday’s primary race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.“Gubernatorial” is a funny-sounding word that makes Andy Griffith fans say, “I thought Goober’s last name was ‘Pyle.’”

A couple of candidates are saying former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel once supported gay marriage and abortion. Handel says not only is she against gay civil unions, she’s against gay couples’ adopting kids, too. She’s a pro-life Christian who believes marriage is a union of one man and one woman, and that’s all it can be.

And I know some divorcees who would agree.

Handel was in Columbus Thursday, a hot day for an outdoor stop in a governor’s race that as pundits say is “heating up.” She stood in the blazing sun outside the Government Center, basking in a media spotlight brightened by a poll showing her gaining on front-runner John Oxendine, the state insurance commissioner.

The poll was conducted before former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Handel. A later poll showed Handel pulling ahead. The full effect of Palin’s plug isn’t clear, but some political junkies think it laid a punch on Handel’s competitors, who immediately started swinging at her — from the right.

One mailing that drew Handel’s ire came from the Oxendine campaign. She said its source was so obscure voters couldn’t tell. It said Handel favored abortion by supporting Planned Parenthood and once backed gay marriage by joining the gay Log Cabin Republicans.

In Columbus, Handel repeatedly emphasized she believes in man-woman only marriage. She was being questioned by an Atlanta TV reporter earlier last week when she said she’s also against letting gay couples adopt. Georgia has more pressing issues to handle, she added.

Sending out a nearly anonymous mailer questioning her conservatism makes Oxendine a coward, she said Thursday.

“He says everything and anything to anyone, and we’ve got hard decisions to make. We need an individual who has a solid moral compass.... And I think his lack of courage, and the fact that he is a coward, shows up in the fact that he didn’t put his name on that mail piece that he sent out,” Handel said.

Handel’s a liar, said Oxendine campaign manager Stephen Puetz:

“All John did, and all our campaign is doing, is we’re setting the record straight — that she has a liberal record, and that’s she’s lying about her liberal record, and she continues to lie about her liberal record.”

The mailer’s coming out as Palin endorsed Handel was coincidental, he said.

So be on guard for gay marriage this election year, or it might sneak up on you and Goober.

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