[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/13/art.oxendinead.0713.youtube.jpg caption ="Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine is out with a new ad on Tuesday."](CNN) – Sarah Palin waded into the Georgia governor's race Monday and already that contest is growing more intense.
Less than a day after the former Alaska governor announced she is backing former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a GOP opponent is out with a scathing campaign commercial that suggests Handel once supported abortion rights.
"She gave almost a half-million dollars to an abortion provider. And supported tax-payer benefits for gay couples. Sounds like a liberal Democrat. It's the Karen Handel you didn't know," says a new ad from John Oxendine, the state insurance commissioner who is considered the frontrunner in the race.
Specifically, the ad says that when Handel was chairman of the Fulton County Commission in 2005 she voted in favor of a $425,568 allocation for Planned Parenthood.
Former Rep. Nathan Deal and former state Sen. Eric Johnson are also running for GOP gubernatorial nomination.
The primary is set for July 20 with a runoff scheduled on August 10 if no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote. The current governor of Georgia, Republican Sonny Perdue, has served in that post since 2003 and is term-limited from running for reelection.
"In a posting on her Facebook page Monday, Palin called Handel a reformer who will "strengthen…families, businesses, state and, ultimately, our United States."
"Though considered an underdog candidate (more power to her!), this pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude and a record of fighting for ethics in government is ready to serve in the Governor's Office. She'll balance budgets and help spur Georgia's economy," Palin also wrote.