ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: The power of Sarah Palin’s endorsements will once again be put to the test today as one of her "mama grizzlies," Karen Handel, faces off in Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial primary.
Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, has emerged in the lead against six other candidates. A Mason-Dixon survey released Sunday showed her leading the pack with 29 percent of voter support, and former front-runner John Oxendine in second place with 22 percent.
Pollsters say Handel’s campaign gained steam after Palin’s endorsement last week touting her as a “great commonsense conservative woman,” and a robocall Palin taped, encouraging voters to dismiss the “crazy things” being said about Handel.
Handel herself took a few pointers from the former Alaska governor. In her campaign, Handel constantly stressed her position as the sole female candidate. Her first and only TV ad, “Lipstick,” slammed her main opponents as “three with iffy ethics” and her as one who “wears lipstick” -- topped with an image of an Ox wearing red lipstick.
The race will likely head into a runoff unless one candidate can secure at least 50 percent of the votes.
In other “mama grizzly” news, Palin on Monday endorsed another heavy hitter, Republican Kelly Ayotte, for the New Hampshire Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Judd Gregg.
Palin -- in her typical Facebook endorsement -- praised Ayotte’s anti-abortion rights stance and warned voters of negative ads against the “Granite Grizzly.”
She also took a stab at Ayotte’s main rival in the primary, Republican businessman Bill Binnie, and Democrat Rep. Paul Hodes. The congressman released a controversial ad earlier this month attacking Ayotte for deleting her e-mails to cover up her department’s investigation of what is alleged to be the state’s largest Ponzi scheme.
“This pro-life, pro-family, anti-tax constitutional commonsense conservative is the Democrats’ biggest fear in November. They’re already running false ads against her weeks before even the primary election,” Palin wrote. “And on top of that Kelly is facing attacks from a self-funded millionaire running with an R next to his name who likes Obamacare and cap-and-tax.”
Palin’s endorsements have helped lift many underdogs to the forefront, including South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina. But not all of her candidates have been so lucky -- In Arkansas, Cecile Bledsoe lost the Republican primary for one of the House seats, and third party candidate Doug Hoffman lost in New York's 2009 special election for Congress.
-- Huma Khan