Georgia's Republican Senate primary runoff pits a multimillionaire businessman who's never held public office against a congressman who's spent more than two decades on Capitol Hill.
Former corporate CEO David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston have immediately worked to frame the matchup to their advantage. Perdue, a cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, blasts Kingston as a "career politician" who's already had his chance to tackle challenges like a $17 trillion national debt. And Kingston says Perdue oversells his business record and his conservative credentials.
Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, meanwhile, isn't waiting for the GOP's July 22 runoff to go on the attack. "It's a race to extremes and represents the acrimony and inflexibility that people are tired of already in Washington," the former nonprofit CEO said Wednesday after chatting with voters at an Atlanta diner alongside Mayor Kasim Reed.
She and her aides said that would be her line of attack regardless of whether she faces Perdue the outsider or Kingston the insider Nov. 4.
The ultimate outcome will help determine which party controls the Senate for the final two years of President Barack Obama's administration. Republicans must pick up a net of six seats for a Senate majority and can ill afford to lose the Georgia seat opened by Sen. Saxby Chambliss's retirement. National Democrats view Nunn as one of their only opportunities to pick up a GOP seat.
She easily dispatched three primary opponents Tuesday as she aims for the seat her father held from 1972 to 1997.
Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok, Dollar General and a North Carolina textile firm called Pillowtex, led seven Republican candidates with 30.6 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah was second with 26 percent. Now they start from scratch in a two-month campaign that Democrats hope will be expensive and divisive.