Businessman David Perdue upset 11-term Rep. Jack Kingston in Georgia’s Republican Senate runoff Tuesday by a narrow, two-point margin — setting up a general-election race featuring two first-time candidates vying for one of the nation’s most hotly-contested Senate seats.
Kingston delivered a concession speech shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Perdue led Kingston, 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent — outside the margin needed to trigger an automatic recount.
The general election is likely to be a costly battle between two candidates running as “outsiders,” despite their politically-powerful 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 first Republican governor elected since Reconstruction, serving two terms from 2003-2011.
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 last year, GOP leaders worried openly that ardent social conservative House members like Gingrey or Paul Broun would be the nominee. The fear was that either of them could 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.
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Big ups to another fantastic almost conservative candidate, and our next Republican Senator from GA David Perdue.