The help of the original Mama Grizzly was not enough to push Georgia's Karen Handel to the top of yesterday's Republican primary run-off for governor. The former Georgia secretary of state received a major boost when Sarah Palin endorsed her in June, propelling Handel to an 11-point lead over former Rep. Nathan Deal in the first primary race (since neither received more than 50 percent of the vote, Handel and Deal headed into a run-off). But after falling four-tenths of a point behind Deal in yesterday's race, Handel chose not to request a recount and conceded the contest.
Since the first primary vote, Handel's lead narrowed as both she and Deal relied on different big-name, presidential-hopeful backers: for her, Palin and Mitt Romney; for him, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich. Palin swung through Atlanta Monday night to stump for Handel, ginning up the crowd to take down the "good ol' boys network" in the state.
This rhetoric is typical of Palin's recent PR push to elect "Mama Grizzlies," her list of female endorsees, to congressional seats and governor's mansions across the country. MSNBC's First Read tracks Palin's endorsement success rate in this election season, finding that 67 percent of her picks have so far come out on top. The blog also notes that, despite the prevalence of the Mama Grizzly meme, Palin has endorsed more men than women.
Here's a recap of the women she has endorsed, what they're running for, and how they're doing:
1. Nikki Haley, governor, South Carolina. One of Palin's first and most high-profile picks, Haley cruised through a Republican primary and run-off and is leading Democratic contender Vincent Sheheen well over ten points in the polls.
2. Mary Fallin, governor, Oklahoma. Fallin easily nabbed the Republican nomination two weeks ago and currently carries a 21-point lead over Democratic opponent Jari Askins.
3. Star Parker, House, California. Parker is a syndicated columnist, former welfare mother (as described by her campaign), and born-again Christian who is challenging Rep. Laura Richardson, a Democrat with a rocky financial history. Richardson's district is solidly Democratic, though, and Parker is considered a long shot.
4. Ann Marie Buerkle, House, New York. Buerkle, who works in the state attorney general's office, is challenging freshman Democrat Dan Maffei. Recent polls from both campaigns show Maffei leading by 9 to 19 points.
5. Kelly Ayotte, Senate, New Hampshire. Palin's endorsement gave Ayotte a serious edge over Republican opponents during the primary, though it may come back to bite her with more moderate general election voters. Ayotte is currently leading Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes by a Pollster.com average of 9 points.
6. CeCe Heil, House, Tennessee. Palin endorsed Heil in early July, but the first-time candidate finished third in last week's Republican primary.
7. Rita Meyer, governor, Wyoming. Meyer, the current state auditor, is neck-and-neck with Matt Mead, a former U.S. attorney, for the Republican nomination. A recent poll gave her 27 percent and him 24. The primary is scheduled for August 17.
8. Carly Fiorina, Senate, California. Palin fielded anger from many of her fans after endorsing Fiorina, whom they branded a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Palin fired back with Fiorina's "pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-military, and pro-strict border security" credentials.
9. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, House, Washington. One of the few incumbents Palin has endorsed, Rodgers serves as the vice chair of the House Republican Conference. With a clear fundraising and name recognition advantage, she probably would have been just fine without Palin's support.
10. Cecile Bledsoe, House, Arkansas. Palin endorsed Bledsoe five days before the Republican primary in June, which was not enough to give her an edge over Republican opponent Steve Womack.
11. Susana Martinez, governor, New Mexico. With Palin's help, the district attorney won the June Republican primary. In November, she'll face off against another woman, Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Old polling from June showed the two candidates just a few points apart.
12. Karen Handel, governor, Georgia. Handel experienced a surge right after Palin's endorsement, but her lead narrowed leading up to the run-off. UPDATED: Deal led the run-off by a hairline margin of 50.2 to 49.8 percent, but Handel chose not to request a recount. She conceded the race on Wednesday, August 11.
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