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Who is Karen Handel, Georgia's newest member of Congress?

Karen Handel has been elected as Georgia's new member of Congress
Who is Karen Handel? 01:41

Republican Karen Handel shattered Democrats' hopes Tuesday night to take Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat away from the GOP and turn the election into a referendum on the policies and the person of President Trump. 

So, who is she?

Handel, 55, is the first woman Georgia Republicans have ever sent to Congress, an overlooked fact in the midst of Tuesday night's events. The former Georgia secretary of state lost multiple bids for higher office before winning her seat in Congress in the most expensive House race in history. In 2014, she lost a GOP primary for U.S. Senate to David Perdue, and in 2010, she narrowly lost her bid for the GOP nomination for governor. 

Handel is no stranger to Washington, D.C. It's where she was born. She grew up in nearby Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where she went to high school. According to her Premiere Speakers Bureau bio, Handel left an "abusive home" at 17, finishing high school and entering the workforce on her own. 

"I've had to be tough my whole life. I moved out when I was 17 to get away from a pretty tough and difficult family environment," Handel said in a digital ad that ran this year. 

Handel spent some time at Prince George's Community College in Maryland and at the University of Maryland, but never graduated from college, placing her in the roughly 5 percent of members of Congress without a bachelor's degree. 

After her time at college, she worked at a Hallmark Cards store before working for Vice President Dan Quayle's wife, Marilyn Quayle. 

She and her husband, Steve Handel, who have no children, moved to the Atlanta area in the 1990s. 

In the private sector, Handel held executive management positions with CIBA Vision and the accounting firm KPMG. She also served as president and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. 

It was in Atlanta that Handel's career in politics really began, working as an aide in the office of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in the early 2000s. Handel served as the chairwoman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners from 2003 to 2006, before she was elected Georgia's first Republican secretary of state in 2006. As secretary of state, Handel implemented a controversial voter ID law, legislation other states soon copied. Handel served in that role until 2010. 

Republican victory in Georgia special election 02:29

In 2012, she gained national attention when she resigned from her role as a vice president at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, after the board decided to restore funding to Planned Parenthood. Handel wrote a book in the wake of her departure -- "Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure."

On the issues, Handel is a standard conservative Republican -- she is pro-life, wants a simpler tax code, pro-border wall and supports a strong national defense, according to her website. During her 2014 Senate bid, Handel said she would be more like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

Handel is a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, an NFL team that left Baltimore, Maryland, in the 1980s.

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