Republican businessman David Perdue won his party’s nomination to run for Senate later this year in a race experts say the GOP can’t afford to lose.
Perdue defeated his opponent, Jack Kingston, a 22-year veteran of the House of Representatives, putting an end to more than two months negative campaigning. The two were vying for a chance to run against Democrat Michelle Nunn in November’s general election for the seat left open by the retirement of GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
That race is widely regarded as an opportunity for the Democratic Party to grab a Senate seat.
Perdue is the former CEO of Reebok and founder of the chain of Dollar General retail stores. He originally beat Kingston in the Republican primary earlier this year against five other opponents. Since neither candidate received a majority of the votes, they were forced into a nine-week runoff. He narrowly defeated Kingston Tuesday with 51 percent of the votes.
He ran as a candidate for change, citing Kingston’s long record in Congress and attacking his opponent as a career politician.
Voters said the choice between the two candidates, who held similar political positions, was a difficult one.
“I had to pick the lesser one because there was so much on television,” one voter said of the negative attack ads that characterized the runoff.
“Besides, we need to get a change in Washington,” she added, telling the Florida Times-Union she cast a vote for Perdue.
Republicans are now shifting gears for the race against Nunn, who has been left largely unscathed by negative attacks from opponents within her party.
Both Nunn and Perdue are expected to tout their status as Washington outsiders in the upcoming general election, despite both of them being the children of prominent politicians. Perdue is the son of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. Nunn is the daughter Sam Nunn, a former Georgia senator.
“David Perdue is a strong nominee who I’m confident will be the next U.S. senator from Georgia,” Eric Tanenblatt, Mitt Romney’s 2012 Georgia finance chairman, told The New York Times. “He will bring a unique perspective to Washington at a time when the American people are craving for leadership.”
Tanenblatt has organized a Senate campaign fund to benefit the Republican nominee in the state this year.
Kingston told his supporters that he would throw his full support behind Perdue in the upcoming contest.
“Don’t call me. I’m on your team,” Kingston said he told Perdue when he called to concede the race. “This is so much bigger than David Perdue or Jack Kingston. It is about taking over the U.S. Senate and turning America around.”
Photo Source: Perdue for Senate