11:58 PM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Associated Press reports that former CEO David Perdue and congressman Jack Kingston won first and second place, respectively, in Tuesday's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Because Perdue, at 30 percent, did not win an outright majority, both he and Kingston (who got 26 percent) will face off in a runoff election for the GOP nomination on July 22. Fewer than 25,000 votes separated Perdue and Kingston.
The five-way primary saw former secretary of state Karen Handel come in third at 22 percent and congressmen Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun practically tied for fourth at 10 percent, according to the latest results from the AP.
How did Perdue and Kingston do it, and how does that portend for the runoff? Kingston's numbers in south Georgia, from which he hails, were impressive. He consistently won 70 percent or more in several counties, running up big totals in Chatham County (Savannah), Glynn County (Brunswick), Bulloch County (Statesboro) and Lowndes County (Valdosta). Kingston's votes in Chatham alone make up for more than half his margin over Karen Handel. And despite starting the race with little name recognition in the more populous northern third of the state, Kingston racked up enough votes in metro Atlanta counties to stave off any threat from Handel. Handel was also hurt by strong showings in some metro Atlanta counties like Cobb and Cherokee by Phil Gingrey, who represents those counties in Congress. By keeping her numbers down and performing well enough in Atlanta, Kingston ensured his place in the runoff.
Kingston also had the benefit of help from outside groups with advertising, particularly the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Rob Engstrom, the Chamber's political director, says Kingston represents the "very best of Georgia."
"He is tested, proven and ready to lead Georgia forward," says Engstrom. "The Chamber is proud to stand with Jack to help restore economic growth and bring America back." Expect to see more help from the Chamber on Kingston's behalf in the runoff.
As for Perdue, the first-time candidate was consistently first or second in nearly every county in the state. His early ad buys that defined him as an outsider ensured he separated from the pack of sitting and former elected officials. It didn't hurt that he shares the last name of his cousin Sonny Perdue, the first Republican governor of Georgia in the modern era. Perdue has the benefit of his own fortune, the lowest estimates of which are just under $12 million. He's likely to self-fund his campaign.
It's difficult to say who has the advantage in the runoff after such a close primary. Turnout will be even lower in July, and there are nine weeks of campaigning in between. Supporters of Handel, Gingrey, and Broun may be more likely to shift their vote to Kingston; talk-radio host Erick Erickson, a Handel supporter, was quick on Twitter to lend his support to Kingston, even before the AP made its final call.
But Kingston will have to grapple with his long tenure and record in the House of Representatives--11 terms--and the potential for an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington message from the Perdue campaign to take hold.
"Georgia Republicans have spoken tonight," said Perdue in his victory speech Tuesday. "They're concerned about the mess in Washington, like you and I are. And I believe they are looking for an alternative."
So, too, will the general election be an issue during the runoff. The Republican nominee will face Michelle Nunn, who easily won the Democratic nomination without need for a runoff. As Perdue said in his speech, "Whoever represents the Republican party as the Senate nominee this fall, they have got to beat Michelle Nunn this fall." The sense of urgency about beating Nunn isn't campaign-speech bluster; changing demographics in Georgia mean its recent GOP tilt may not be so in the next several cycles. Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic senator Sam Nunn, represents one of the Democrats better chances at flipping a Senate seat in their direction. Having an incumbent Republican in that seat when it's up again in 2020 is critical for the GOP.
9:35 AM, May 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
If there’s one thing we know about today’s Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate, it’s that we really don’t know who will win. Or, more precisely, we don’t know which candidates will come in first and second to proceed to the inevitable runoff election in July. With five major candidates in the running, it’s unlikely the winner will get the necessary 50 percent support to avoid a runoff. So even after today, we still won’t know who will be the Republican nominee in November.
3:10 PM, May 13, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new internal poll of the Georgia Republican primary for U.S. Senate finds David Perdue, Karen Handel, and Jack Kingston all within a few points of each other. The poll conducted by Rosetta Stone Communications on behalf of the Handel campaign, found Perdue leading the pack with 22 percent support, with Handel just behind at 20 percent and Kingston in a close third at 18 percent.
1:06 PM, May 1, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia shows former secretary of state Karen Handel moving into a statistical tie for first place with businessman David Perdue, inching ahead of congressman Jack Kingston. The poll found among likely voters, Perdue has 22 percent support, Handel has 21 percent, and Kingston has 17 percent. Additionally, congressmen Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey polled at 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Eleven percent say they are undecided.
11:02 AM, Apr 29, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Savannah-based congressman Jack Kingston is getting some support in his bid for the U.S. Senate in Georgia by way of a new ad from the Chamber of Commerce. The ad calls Kingston a "consistent conservative." Watch it below:
Kingston, a 12-term House member, earned the Chamber's endorsement for the GOP primary earlier this month.
10:11 AM, Apr 25, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, has a new TV ad that pitches her as a "conservative fighter" who wants to "stop illegal immigration and Obamacare" and "cut spending."
"I've been a fighter my whole life. I left a troubled home at 17, but I beat the odds," Handel says in the 30-second spot. "I worked my way up in the private sector and implemented Georgia's tough voter ID law." Handel is the former secretary of state. Watch the video below:
10:23 AM, Apr 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Jack Kingston, the Savannah-based Republican congressman running for the U.S. Senate, has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here's more from the Washington Post:
"Now more than ever we need conservative leaders with a demonstrated record of fighting for Georgia jobs, and that leader is Jack Kingston. As senator, Jack will help lead America’s comeback and lay the groundwork for more jobs, more growth, and a generation of prosperity," said Rob Engstrom, the business group's political director.
Kingston gets Hannity support.12:10 PM, Apr 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate, features heavily in a new TV ad from Georgia Senate candidate Karen Handel. "You know her background. You know her record," says Palin, who endorsed Handel two weeks ago. "The conservative who has walked the walk."
Watch the 30-second ad below:
10:55 AM, Apr 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In a new radio ad, Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel of Georgia hits back at her primary opponent David Perdue for his recently released comments about her lack of a college education. Perdue also touted his international business experience. The minute-long Handel ad replays Perdue's comments.
12:15 PM, Apr 7, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Karen Handel, the former secretary of state of Georgia, has raised $200,000 in the past two weeks for her campaign for Senate, according to a spokesman. The cash-strapped Republican, who is facing better financed primary opponents, has raised more in that time than she had in the previous quarter.
8:02 AM, Apr 3, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia criticized a fellow primary opponent for having only a high school degree. David Perdue, a businessman and first-time candidate for office, was touting his experience and education to a group of voters in January when he made a reference to "a high school graduate in this race."
That candidate is Karen Handel, the former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate. Handel left an abusive home at age 17, according to her campaign, and finished high school. She never graduated from college.
5:56 PM, Mar 10, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican congressman Paul Broun is leading a field of five Senate candidates in Georgia, a new poll has found. Broun has 27 percent of the GOP primary vote, according to a poll commissioned by liberal group Better Georgia. Broun's competitors came in relatively far behind, with fellow congressman Phil Gingrey in second with 14 percent, congressman Jack Kingston with 13 percent, and businessman David Perdue with 12 percent. Former secretary of state Karen Handel registered 9 percent support.
11:49 AM, Jan 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of Georgia voters found the likely Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate is slightly ahead of four the candidates in the crowded GOP primary. PPP, working on behalf of the liberal group Americans United For Change, found that Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Republican congressmen Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston, as well as former secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel.