Businessman David Perdue's outsider narrative and personal wealth propelled him to the Republican nomination Tuesday in the Georgia Senate race, defeating Rep. Jack Kingston.
Perdue led the 11-term congressman, 51 percent to 49 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.
After an extra nine weeks were tacked on to the initial May 20 primary , the race is finally progressing to the general election — where Democrat Michelle Nunn has quietly been compiling cash for what will be a pricey contest.
The race for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss marks one of Democrats’ only pickup opportunities — and a race Republicans can’t afford to lose if they hope to win the Senate majority. The GOP needs to net six seats to gain control of the chamber.
Perdue, who has already invested more than $3 million into his campaign, is the early favorite in this GOP-leaning state, which President Barack Obama declined to compete for in 2012 and lost by 7 points. But Perdue can expect similar attacks on his past business dealings that he faced in the runoff .
The former Dollar General and Reebok CEO plastered “The Outsider” to his campaign bus and pushed the theme that electing an insider such as Kingston would do nothing to improve the way business is conducted on Capitol Hill. After a memorable series of ads during the primary depicting his opponents as crying babies, Perdue summed up his argument in a direct-to-camera closing TV ad: “If you like what’s happening in Washington, vote for Jack Kingston.”
Kingston’s messaging against Perdue was no softer. His final ad accused Perdue of supporting Common Core, “amnesty” and the Wall Street bailout, and it featured a mannequin dressed up like Perdue. “Claiming you’re a conservative doesn’t make you one,” the narrator said. “David Perdue is just not the real thing.”
National Democrats, who released a memo Tuesday morning slamming both Republicans, are hoping the acrimonious runoff pushed the eventual nominee “further right and exposed vulnerabilities that will lead to their defeat in the fall,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky wrote.
Beyond that, Nunn, in concert with her party’s gubernatorial nominee, Jason Carter, must sign up a big chunk of the estimated 800,000 unregistered black, Hispanic and Asian voters. Nunn’s path also includes picking off moderate Republicans drawn to her pedigree as the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., her record as CEO of the Points of Light Foundation and her message of business-friendly bipartisanship.
Nunn has stood strong in early public polling, but she has so far been largely ignored by outside groups that either sat out the primary or were focused on getting their preferred candidate through. But that honeymoon ended Sunday, when Ending Spending Action Fund slammed Nunn in essentially the first TV ad of the general election.
There is more to come. Citizens for a Working America PAC spent more than $2 million on Perdue's behalf during the primary and runoff.
This is a race to watch. But for now, it’s rated Favored Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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