Karen Handel, the Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia's sixth district, on Wednesday afternoon addressed that morning's shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice.
A gunman who police identified as James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va., wounding five people including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.). Hodgkinson had penned a Facebook rant against Handel last week.
"My thoughts are with the victims of this morning's despicable, unprovoked attack on the Republican congressional softball team," wrote Handel, Georgia's former secretary of state. "Representative Scalise is a friend, and my heart goes out to him and his family. Steve and I wish him and the others wounded a speedy recovery. They remain in our thoughts and prayers."
"I also want to commend the heroic actions of the Capitol Police officers who clearly prevented today's attack from being a much bigger tragedy," she wrote.
Handel also addressed expletive comments that Hodgkinson made about her on social media.
Hodgkinson posted an article about Handel to his Facebook, calling her a "Republican Bitch" who wants "People to Work for Slave Wages [sic]," NBC affiliate WXIA reported.
"Republican Bitch Wants People to Work for Slave Wages, when a Livable Wage is the Only Way to Go! Vote Blue, It's Right for You!" Hodgkinson wrote on Facebook.
"I am aware that the suspect recently made vile comments about me on social media," Handel said in her statement. "It also appears that the suspect targeted members of Congress specifically because he disagreed with their views."
Hodgkinson's social media posts indicate he was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and loathed President Donald Trump and Republican policies.
Handel echoed calls by others, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), for bipartisan unity following the attack.
"We should not allow our political differences to escalate to violent attacks. We must all refuse to allow the politics of our country to be defined in this way," she wrote. "Now more than ever, we must unite as a one nation under God. It is incumbent upon all of us to work together in a civil and productive way, even when we disagree."
Handel will face off against Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff in a June 20 runoff election.