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David Perdue Wins GOP Senate Nom in Georgia

Will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November.

10:30 AM, Jul 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Businessman and first-time candidate David Perdue pulled off what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls a "political shocker" by winning the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate in Georgia Tuesday. Perdue defeated Republican congressman Jack Kingston, who had the backing of much of the party establishment in Georgia, most of the Republican House delegation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

David Perdue

David Perdue

The runoff was very close, with Perdue winning by fewer than 2 percentage points and fewer than 10,000 votes. The Savannah-based Kingston dominate in rural south Georgia, but Perdue won nearly every county north of the "gnat" line, which includes the populous metro Atlanta region. Perdue is running to succeed retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss and join fellow Republican Johnny Isakson in the Senate. Neither senator endorsed in the primary.

Perdue is the cousin of former GOP governor Sonny Perdue, the first Republican to win the governor's seat since Reconstruction. Despite this pedigree, David Perdue has never run for office and based his candidacy around this fact. His first ad of the primary season cast his fellow four Republican candidates (all current or former elected officials) as whining babies, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, and Perdue' overall message has been that he is an outsider. In Kingston, Perdue had a runoff opponent who had been in the House of Representatives since 1993.

Perdue and Georgia Republicans now turn their sights to the general election and the Democratic nominee for the open Senate seat, Michelle Nunn. Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic senator Sam Nunn, is also running for the first time and has similarly situated herself as an outsider. Georgia has been voting Republican for state and federal offices for years, and the last Democrat to win a Senate election in the Peach State was in 2000 when conservative Democrat Zell Miller won a special election. Republicans hold the majority of the seats in the state's House delegation, both houses in the state assembly, and all eight statewide elected offices. Furthermore, the GOP presidential candidate has won Georgia the last four elections in a row. 

Still, the state's increasingly diverse population may be weakening the GOP's stronghold, and national Democrats see Nunn's run as a possible way to take back a Republican-held seat in a tough year for the party throughout the country.

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