Politics
6:00 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Perdue, Kingston Head To GOP Runoff For Senate Spot

Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue topped the six other GOP Senate hopefuls Tuesday with about 30 percent of the vote. He'll face sitting Congressman Jack Kingston in runoff election set for July 22.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

Businessman David Perdue and Congressman Jack Kingston Tuesday clenched the top two spots in the crowded Republican primary for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The two now head to a runoff to represent the party in the November general election.

Perdue topped the six other candidates in the packed GOP Senate primary with about 30 percent of the vote, while Kingston narrowly edged out former Secretary of State and Tea Party favorite Karen Handel for the final spot.

“You know, one thing we did tonight is retire three career politicians,” said Perdue in his victory speech at the Doubletree Hotel in Buckhead. “And we have one more.”

The two also edged out sitting Congressmen Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, along with attorney Art Gardner and engineer Derrick Grayson.

  The former Dollar General CEO and the sitting Savannah congressman now have nine weeks to campaign before the July 22 runoff.

As he’d done throughout his campaign, Perdue continued to paint himself as an outsider looking to tackle partisan Washington. After his victory speech, he said he’ll maintain that strategy in the runoff.

While Perdue needs to win the runoff in order to compete in the general election, he said he’s ready to take on Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn come November.

“In the primary it was all about can we get in a runoff, who are the best two people. I think we’re going to present a case that we will be the best Republican nominee to beat Michelle Nunn in the fall,” Perdue said.

Perdue and Kingston are vying to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who announced in early 2013 he’d be stepping down.

The Georgia Senate race is seen as a key to Republican hopes of reclaiming a majority in the Senate, as they’ll need to maintain the Georgia seat while also picking up six seats currently held by Democrats. 

At Jack Kingston’s election night party at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Midtown Atlanta, the crowd was electric.

Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston speaks to supporters on primary night. Kingston and businessman David Perdue are in a runoff to represent the Georgia Republican Party in the race for the U.S. Senate.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE News

Chanting, “I back Jack! I back Jack,” his supporters welcomed him onto the stage.

Kingston moved ahead of the other candidates, including former Secretary of State Karen Handel, and just past 11:30 pm Tuesday, advanced to the runoff.

During his victory speech, he told supporters he’s willing to fight hard to keep the Senate seat Republican. 

“We are absolutely going to turn this country around,” he said.

He introduced a six-point campaign, which he said includes tackling fiscal responsibility, strengthening national defense and pushing back regulation.

For the next two months, Kingston says he’ll be using “retail politics” to reach his voters.

Kingston says he'll rely on "retail politics" to win the primary runoff.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE News

“We don’t have the kind of money that Mr. Perdue has. We have a grassroots organization. We have to lean on a lot of high voter touch,” Kingston said. “We’re going to go out and talk to every single person in Georgia who’s interested in this race.”

He’ll meet candidate David Perdue in the runoff on July 22.