Self-described “outsider” candidate David Perdue claimed an unexpected victory in Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senate primary runoff after a brutal, nine-week intra-party fight against his competitor, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston.
The results were tight throughout the night, hovering around 50-50 throughout, but the businessman Perdue ultimately secured 50.9% of the vote, according to The Associated Press. Kingston, an 11-term congressman lagged behind by 1.7%, finishing with 49.1% of the final tally.
Perdue claimed victory in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Buckhead, Georgia, and spoke of the potential he sees should he win the Senate seat in November.
“The good news is there’s an alternative: Limited government, economic opportunity… and a health care system that works for Georgians, he said. “We cannot give Harry Reid one more vote in this U.S. Senate. … That cannot stand.”
Perdue also thanked his followers, many of whom began supporting him before he was, in his words, “a viable” candidate.
“Guys, there are so many people to thank. We are the underdogs. I am a better candidate now because I’ve been through this process. So to you, I say God bless,” he said.
Kingston gave the concession speech he said he “didn’t want to give.” He congratulated Perdue on a “victory well fought.”
The momentum swung in Perdue’s favour due largely to his success in mid-Georgia. Perdue also succeeded in the northern half of Georgia, which includes heavily populated metro-Atlanta.
Kingston performed very strongly in his home district, which encompasses 17 counties in southeast Georgia, as well as in the southern half of the state overall.
In the May primary, Perdue also won the largest percentage of the popular vote, leading Kingston 31% to 26%.
Going into tonight’s race, polls largely indicated momentum for Kingston putting the incumbent between five and seven points above Perdue. The positive numbers for Kingston were fuelled by the wide array of supporters that endorsed him during the runoff campaign, including the U.S. Chamber of Congress and big conservative names like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In closing his concession speech, Kingston ensured his full support for his former competitor.
The coming months will tell whether or not Republicans will be able to rally their base around Perdue as he begins yet another gruelling campaign. Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn will likely put up an even tougher battle than Kingston. Recent polls have shown Nunn either close with or out in front of Perdue.
Democrats have identified Georgia as one of only two potential Senate seat steals this year, along with Kentucky. They plan to campaign aggressively before the November vote. The general election is Nov. 2.
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