Perdue, Kingston top GOP primary field in Georgia
Two establishment-backed candidates will vie for the Georgia GOP Senate nomination in a July run-off following their 1-2 finish in a crowded primary field on Tuesday night.
Businessman David Perdue and Chamber of Commerce-backed Rep. Jack Kingston will square off to determine the nominee. Neither candidate received 50% of the vote, thus precipitating the run off.
Perdue ended up with 31% of the vote as Kingston received 26%. Finishing out of the running was former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who received 22 percent of the vote. Handel had been endorsed by Sarah Palin. Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey finisehd far off the pace.
The primary has been closely watched nationally, with Republicans needing just six seats to claim a majority in the Senate. Nunn is considered a formidable opponent, and Republicans can ill afford to lose the seat left open by retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Although the state has voted reliably Republican in recent years, Democrats see an opening with changing demographics in the state -- a growing minority population and residents moving in from out of state.
"I want to be the candidate in November," Perdue told a cheering crowd of supporters. "I've begged you for a year, get me into this general election in November because we will not allow (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid to have one more vote in this United States Senate."
Perdue, a cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, saw his standing rise in recent weeks due in part to TV ads depicting his four opponents as crying babies who had their chance to fix the nation's problems. Perdue, who cast himself as an outsider, chipped in at least $2.1 million of his own money to his campaign.
Kingston, a longtime congressman, dominated in fundraising throughout the GOP race and drew support from dozens of state and local officials. Of the three congressmen, Kingston was considered the strongest and received the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent nearly $1 million in TV and online ads promoting him.
Handel also sought to claim the outsider mantle. She built momentum in the final month with the help of a comment by Perdue about her lack of a college degree and endorsements from the likes of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but her lack of money hurt her ability to match Perdue and Kingston in critical TV advertising.
Kingston had cast himself as a frugal politician, and he and others pounced on the chance to say Perdue would raise taxes when the former CEO said spending cuts alone couldn't fix the nation's fiscal problems. Perdue dismissed the attack as "deceitful."
The results, both in Georgia and nationwide, appear to confirm the fact that there is no substitute for raising massive amounts of cash. Ideas are good, personality is important, endorsements matter. But in close races, he who has the most cash, generally ends up on top.
It sounds ridiculously simple minded to repeat this, but there are several races the Tea Party lost to vulnerable incumbents largely because their candidate was woefully underfunded. Can Tea Party candidates compete with outfits like the Chamber of Commerce? Of course they can. Better organization and planning as well as acquiring the technical know-how to mine the internet for funds would even the odds considerably.
Just about any GOP candidate running in that primary could have won in November. And for all the talk about Georgia's "changing demographics," in a mid term election, that doesn't mean squat. Turnout whill favor the GOP, and the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, who has never run a political campaign, still has a steep hill to climb to best either Perdue or Kingston in November.