Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) will proceed to a July runoff in the Georgia Senate race after the Republican primary election on Tuesday.
Perdue coasted to a runoff spot early but it took longer for the Associated Press to declare Kingston as moving on in the race. He battled out former Secretary of State Karen Handel to advance. The winner of the Perdue-Kingston runnoff will face Democrat Michelle Nunn, who easily secured her party’s nomination.
Perdue, a native of Macon, Georgia, is a former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok. Perdue started out the race as a long-shot candidate but steadily gained in the polls to become the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, gaining national attention for his ads depicting his fellow GOPers as crying babies. Perdue later tussled with Handel, another competitor in the race, by tarring her as only a “high school graduate.”
Kingston, who will face Purdue in the runoff, was considered the strongest and most establishment candidate in the race but he struggled to become an early favorite. A local Georgia news outlet reported that Kingston expensed an excessive amount of money for campaign events and travel, which is awkward when juxtaposed with ads depicting him as a penny pincher who drives a beat-up old car. He once even suggested that students should work cleaning up the cafeteria in exchange for free school lunch.
Kingston won the support of the Chamber of Commerce, which spent $920,000 on online and television advertising in support of Kingston in the race.
With these candidates, Republicans are likely to avoid the “Todd Akin” curse in Georgia, since several of the rest of the candidates in the field tried to portray themselves as extreme tea party candidates: Reps. Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun and Handel.
Handel was endorsed by Sarah Palin, The Tea Party Express and Erick Erickson, but still earned attacks for being too liberal on LGBT rights in a homophobic last minute ad. Handel has perhaps one of the more inspiring stories in the GOP field. At 17 she left an abusive home and worked low pay jobs. She never graduated from college but was still able to eventually be elected secretary of State in Georgia. After it was revealed that Handel, as a vice president of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, lead a push to defund Planned Parenthood, Handel resigned the organization.
Gingrey, who experienced an exodus of a chunk of his campaign staff during the race, earned criticism for complaining that he only made $172,000 a year as member of Congress. And before his 2014 Senate bid, Gingrey said that then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) was “partially right” on his infamous “legitimate rape” comment.
Broun, who infamously called the big bang theory and the theory of evolution “lies straight from the pit of hell,” was caught saying he was surprised a “Middle Eastern-looking man” at the airport did not get a pat-down. During one debate, Broun’s was the first hand to shoot up when the candidates at that debate were asked if they wanted to impeach President Obama. Broun also has a penchant for keeping the hides of animals he killed while hunting in his office.
But even if Republicans have avoided the so-called Akin curse this time around, the tea party successfully moved the debate during the primary to hone in on key conservative issues. Three of the candidates at a debate said they wanted to impeach President Barack Obama. More recently most of the field refused to say whether they would support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as Republican leader for another term.