Perdue upsets Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

In a mild surprise, businessman David Perdue narrowly bested Rep. Jack Kingston to win the runoff election in Georgia for the GOP senate nomination.

The tally was 50.9% for Perdue and 49.1% for Kingston - outside the margin that would trigger an automatic recount.

Perdue rode his "outsider" image to victory, despite some unforced errors. In the end, the mostly self-funding Perdue convinced voters he was the man to go to Washington and help fix the fiscal mess we're in.


The general election is likely to be a costly battle between two candidates running as “outsiders,” despite their politicallypowerful families. Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn’s father, Sam Nunn, represented Georgia in the Senate for 24 years. Perdue’s first cousin, Sonny Perdue, was the state’s first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction, serving two terms from 2003 to 2011.

With Kingston’s defeat, Nunn has lost her chance to run against Washington and the national debt. She is expected, instead, to contrast her background as a nonprofit executive against Perdue’s tenure as a CEO at companies like Reebok and Dollar General.

Georgia is the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a Republican-held seat this fall, which ensures it will be one of the most closely watched races on the map.

Kingston, who has represented a Savannah-area district since 1992, overwhelmingly won the southern and coastal parts of the state Tuesday, but he did not make the inroads into metropolitan Atlanta that he needed, despite strong help from third-place finisher Karen Handel and fourth-place finisher Phil Gingrey.

For much of past year, GOP leaders worried openly that an ardent social conservative House member, like Gingrey or Paul Broun, would be the nominee. The fear was that either of them might make a Todd Akin-style gaffe that could cost the party another red-state seat and make winning a majority that much harder. But both Kingston and Perdue were considered acceptable to the GOP establishment.

Still, the general election to replace GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss appears competitive. Nunn led Perdue by 6 points, 48-42, in a Landmark Communications poll last week for the Atlanta ABC affiliate and 7 points, 48-41, in a Democratic robopoll from Public Policy Polling; both polls notably showed Kingston ahead in the primary. Nunn has been one of the most impressive nonincumbent fundraisers nationally this cycle.

Forget the polls. Now that the race has two faces, they will almost certainly tighten up. Nunn will be competitive, but can she win?

I think it a mirage the Democrats are pursuing. The stars would all have to align correctly for Nunn to come out on top on election day. Black turnout will have to be much bigger than in past mid term elections - the same goes for the young, single women, and Hispanics.

Even then, Nunn is going to have to hope for a Perdue gaffe. All the talk about demographic changes in Georgia speaks more to the future than 2014. Barring a Perdue slip up, the former CEO of Dollar General should win.

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