Late Tuesday night, after self-described “outsider” Republican candidate David Perdue claimed victory over opponent Rep. Jack Kingston in the Georgia Republican primary runoff, the real battle began.
One of the hottest Senate seats in the country – which Democrats have pegged as one of only two potential steals this year, and which could determine whether or not Republicans take back the Senate majority – is now up for grabs between Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn.
The two opponents are uniquely similar on paper. Perdue is the cousin of former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, and Nunn is the daughter of 24-year Georgia Senator, Sam Nunn; in a rare coincidence, a quintessential Democratic Georgian political powerhouse will take on its Republican counterpart.
Both Nunn and Perdue are also new to politics. Nunn’s background is in the nonprofit sector, where she spent 20 years as CEO of former President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, while Perdue comes from a weighty business past, with tenures as CEO of Dollar General and CEO of Reebok on his resume.
Business Insider spoke with Perdue’s exhausted but upbeat campaign manager Derrick Dickey Wednesday. Dickey described the mood among the Perdue campaign as “confident,” citing Perdue’s excitement about being “the standard bearer for Republicans this fall.”
Dickey quickly moved to one of Perdue’s main objectives in the general election campaign: holding Michelle Nunn accountable for what he says is her inevitable alignment with Barack Obama’s policies.
“A vote for Michelle Nunn will be another vote for Harry Reid, and another vote for the policies that have brought about the dismal results we see now with respect to jobs and our economy,” Dickey said. “We know David has the right private sector experience to prosecute the failed policies of the Obama Administration [and]…to address the crisis of the day, which is debt and job creation.”
Dickey also argued that the gruelling, nine-week primary runoff where polls widely showed him as an underdog primed Perdue for the upcoming battle,
“What we saw was David going through a tough primary and proving that he can stand on his own two feet,” said Dickey. “Michelle Nunn has really yet to do this so far. Perdue is the stronger candidate for having gone through what he has.”
Michelle Nunn, however, seems to be jumping into the campaign season with vigor as well.
Nunn campaign manager Jeff DiSantis sent an email to supporters just after Perdue’s victory speech, saying he “couldn’t be prouder of everything that Michelle and our grassroots team have already accomplished, but with the head-to-head matchup finally here, it’s about to kick into overdrive.” As of this writing, DiSantis and the Nunn campaign have not responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider. Nunn’s campaign blasted another email to supporters Wednesday morning announcing their Hank Aaron endorsed 24-hour “Georgia on my Mind” fundraising effort, which asks for a $US7.55 donation in honour of Aaron’s 755 career home runs.
Nunn has reportedly raised over $US7 million in her campaign already, and will likely look to energize female, youth, and metro-Atlanta populations as well as potential Republican swing-voters in her efforts leading up to November 2nd. Operation Bannock Street, the Democratic Party plan to apply algorithmic technology to identify political leanings of potential voters and ideal methods of getting them out to the polls will play a significant role as well. The $US60 million operation, run out of Washington by executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Guy Cecil, has allocated a large portion of its resources to the race in Georgia.
Perdue reportedly has a net worth of at least $US11.9 million, and has already spent over $US1 million of his own money on his campaign. According to a Time article published Wednesday, Perdue had $US784,000 cash on hand in his campaign account as of July 2: quite a ways behind Nunn. This cash gap means it will be imperative for Perdue to win the support of Republican groups like the U.S. Chamber of Congress, who poured money and support into Kingston’s campaign.
Business Insider asked Dickey, Perdue’s campaign manager, whether his team was concerned about fundraising. He dismissed the idea they have anything to worry about.
“We are confident that our campaign will have the resources to be successful in November,” Dickey said.
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