In the Republican primary for the Georgia Senate seat open this fall, the two candidates generally considered most favored by “the establishment” are heading to a runoff, according to the AP: With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Chamber of Commerce–backed representative Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue, cousin of a former governor, have 26 percent of the vote and 30 percent of the vote, respectively.
A candidate would have had to hit 50 percent of the vote to win the primary outright, which was never likely in a field of five serious candidates. Two others were also U.S. representatives: Paul Gingrey and Paul Broun both ran well to the right of Kingston, and have had a history of controversial comments and positions (though Gingrey doesn’t have a much more conservative congressional voting record than Kingston — both of them are in the middle of the House GOP caucus). At this writing, Broun and Gingrey were just under 10 percent of the vote. The fifth candidate, former gubernatorial candidate and secretary of state Karen Handel, got a number of prominent conservative endorsements throughout the campaign and appeared to be in the race’s top two, but just missed the runoff with about 22 percent of the vote.
No critical mass of conservative forces coalesced around any of the five candidates, and some key groups, such as the Club for Growth, even stayed out of the race. In the end, Georgia’s getting two conservative candidates, but one who’s a ten-term member of the House Appropriations Committee and the other of whom is a former Wall Street exec, a member of the board of the Georgia Port Authority, and a resident of the state’s most exclusive vacation community, Sea Island.
The run-off between Kingston and Perdue will be held July 22, giving plenty of time for Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia senator Sam Nunn, to build her campaign. Democrats consider Georgia’s open Senate seat (vacated by retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss) one of their very few red-state pick-up opportunities this fall. Nunn may even have time to figure out whether she opposes Obamacare or not.