(CNN) – Sarah Palin strikes again - this time lending her conservative star power to candidate Karen Handel in the jam-packed battle for the GOP Senate nomination in Georgia.
The stakes in the race are high for both parties as Democrats eye the seat in the red state as one of their few potential pick-ups in 2014 – a prospect Palin underscored Thursday in her endorsement.
"This Georgia Senate race is very important to the Democrats and has long-term repercussions for 2016 as Democrats test the waters to see if they can win big in a red state with a woman candidate," Palin said of Republican hopes to keep the seat and kick Democrats out of the majority in the Senate.
"That is why the GOP needs a strong contender like Karen Handel. She is the conservative candidate who can win this race and hold this seat for the GOP," said Palin in a Facebook posting.
Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state, is one of eight Republican candidates vying in the May 20 primary. The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who announced last year he's not seeking re-election.
Handel trails many of her Republican opponents in the polls, hovering around 10% support in recent surveys. Palin, as well as 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, endorsed Handel in her failed bid in 2010 for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
On the Democratic side, Michelle Nunn is the leading candidate.
The daughter of former longtime Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, she has never run for office before but her well-known family name could help her cause.
Democrats are hoping a bruising primary could push the eventual Republican nominee further to the right on issues - making easier Nunn's chances in November.
Palin's endorsement of Handel is the latest in a series of Senate candidates she's thrown her star power behind in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, she endorsed Joni Ernst for an open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa. And earlier this month she backed conservatives in Oklahoma, Nebraska and Mississippi for the Senate. Prior to those endorsements, Palin supported conservatives in Texas for a U.S. House seat and the state's gubernatorial contest.
Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and former governor from Alaska, endorsed a number of conservatives vying for congressional seats in the 2010 cycle, when a tea party-backed wave bumped Republicans into the majority in the House of Representatives. She cut back on endorsements in the 2012 elections.
Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those seats in red or purple states.
Democrats are also heavily focusing pick-up efforts on the Senate race in Kentucky, where incumbent is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a primary challenger from a tea party-backed candidate.
CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this report.