At a time of disgust with all things Washington D.C., voters in Georgia are set to send someone to represent them in the U.S. Senate next year who has never held political office before.
This became clear Tuesday night when Republicans surprisingly nominated businessman David Perdue over veteran Rep. Jack Kingston in the state’s GOP run-off. Prior to the contest, most pollsters showed Kingston, who benefited from the money and support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, likely to triumph.
But Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General who has poured money into his own campaign, defeated Kingston by two points and is now set to face-off with Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, the former CEO of a non-profit, in November’s general election.
Republicans and Democrats stressed Perdue and Nunn’s outsider status on Tuesday.
“Voters across the Peach State will rally behind David Perdue’s campaign because they’ve had enough of the incompetence and dysfunction that has been the hallmark of Democratic controlled Washington,” said Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“Georgians are excited about Michelle Nunn’s campaign and her independent record, career in public service, and commitment to working to put aside partisan rancor and tackle the challenges that face our country,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director Guy Cecil said.
Even though both candidates will emphasize their distance from Washington, it will be pointed out that neither are truly newcomers to the political arena: both are related to some of the biggest names in Georgia politics.
Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and grew up outside Washington as a child; Perdue is first cousins with former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Perdue’s win over Kingston, who has served in Congress since 1993, ends what has been a particularly competitive primary to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Others who ran in the May 20 primary included former Secretary of State Karen Handel, Rep. Phil Gingrey and Rep. Paul Broun. Perdue and Kingston were the top two vote getters in the initial round of voting.
Running as a Democrat in a conservative state, Nunn has been taking up positions rare for a liberal.
For instance, Nunn says she is against special Obamacare subsidies for lawmakers in Congress.
In an ad releases by her campaign, Nunn says: “No one in Congress should get a subsidy to pay for their own health care.”
Her position is notable because the issue of Obamacare subsidies is usually argued by conservative critics of the health-care law. It also shows Nunn’s attempt to move away from the liberal wing of the national Democratic Party.
In 2012, Mitt Romney defeated Barack Obama in Georgia with 53 percent of the vote.
Still, the race is expected to be a close one: the Real Clear Politics polling average shows Nunn and Perdue in a virtual tie with both at 42 percent.