Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston advanced Tuesday to the runoff for the Republican Senate nomination in Georgia.
Perdue and Kingston were the top vote-getters, beating out former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun.
Perdue led with 30 percent when The Associated Press called the race with 87 percent of precincts reporting. As expected, he was unable to secure the 50 percent of the vote necessary to win the nomination outright. Kingston finished second with 26 percent, edging out Handel, who had 22 percent. No matter the outcome of the July 22 runoff, Tuesday's result ensures national Republicans will have a nominee whom party operatives believe can appeal statewide for a seat that is a top target of national Democrats. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was on the air for the three weeks leading up to the primary with an ad touting Kingston, who spent the final stretch jostling with Handel to advance.
The runoff will serve as a continuation of the skirmish already underway between Kingston and Perdue, who regularly touted his position as the only candidate among the top five to never hold public office. Perdue grouped his four top opponents in early ads that portrayed them as crying babies. Kingston pushed back in the final week with an ad showing Perdue as a greedy toddler , prompting another Perdue ad, calling Kingston “desperate.” They're vying to replace retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The Georgia congressional delegation will see extensive turnover by the next Congress: Kingston, Gingrey and Broun gave up their seats in the House to run in the Senate. Gingrey and Broun pulled in just 10 percent apiece.
The runoff winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn, who easily won her primary.
National Democrats are happy Nunn's eventual opponent will spend another nine weeks expending resources in a primary. That will help the well-funded Democrat in a state where the party is optimistic thanks in part to changing demographics and hundreds of thousands of potential Democrats not yet on the voter rolls.
Still, Republicans feel good about their two possible nominees.
The race is rated Favored Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.