Tea Partiers Side With Rep. Kingston In Georgia Senate Runoff Election

Tea partiers in Georgia seem to be aligning with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) over businessman David Perdue in the runoff on July 22 for the Republican nomination for Senate. The winner of that race will face Democrat Michelle Nunn.

On Tuesday Julianne Thompson, the co-chairwoman of the Atlanta Tea Party, endorsed Kingston over Perdue, the other candidate in the Georgia runoff election, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We do not need someone to be another member of the Senate Country Club. We need courage … someone who is strong enough to fight for our principles in an atmosphere that is sometimes very difficult,” Thompson said according to the Georgia newspaper. “We also need someone who is accessible and respects the fact that the people that elected him will hold him accountable.”

That endorsement comes a few days after RedState’s Erick Erickson announced that he preferred Kingston over Perdue. He said would have liked for former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who he endorsed in the May 20 primary, to have made it into the run off.

“Into the runoff, I will support my friend Jack Kingston,” Erickson wrote. “Jack is with us a thousand percent on every social issue out there. Jack has just been on the Appropriations Committee and his fiscal votes over the years have not been as good as I thought Handel’s would be. … I think [Kingston] will be with us far more and far more consistently in the Senate than Perdue. In short, Jack will have our back and I can’t say that about David.”

“[A]fter all these years of knowing and liking Jack Kingston, I’ll have the pleasure of voting for him,” Erickson wrote.

Neither Perdue or Kingston were regarded as tea party favorites prior to making it into the runoff — despite the fact that Kingston has a 95.62 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Kingston has been knocked by opponents as an excessive spender by conservatives while Perdue has said he supported the bailout of Wall Street (but not the autoworker bailout) and also said that the best way to get unemployed Americans health insurance is through doing something at the federal level, positions that didn’t exactly endear him to the far right.

Instead, conservative icons and like-minded groups aligned more with other candidates in the field like Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) or Handel. Now that the race is down to just two candidates, both of whom have been regarded as Republican establishment types, conservatives are being forced to pick a lesser of two evils.

“I don’t think anyone is going to invest money there, but the sense is that whereas Kingston is aligned with leadership, Purdue might be to the left of leadership on some issues,” The Madison Project’s Daniel Horowitz told TPM in an email.

Kevin Broughton, the communications director for the Tea Party Patriots, said part of the reason his organization decided to stay out of the Senate race is because there was no clear consensus among supporters over who to back. That doesn’t seem likely to change now.

“We haven’t been involved in that race. We didn’t make an endorsement there. Part of the reason for that is we don’t endorse candidates in a congressional district or a state unless there is some serious consensus among our local people,” Broughton told TPM. “And I don’t know whether the decision to stay out of that Georgia Senate race was made before my time, which is about two months ago. My guess is that that was a pretty crowded field and there were a lot of candidates there and I just have to assume that we didn’t make an endorsement because there’s no frontrunner among our grassroots folks.”

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