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Perdue defeats Kingston in Ga. GOP Senate runoff

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 11:30 p.m.

ATLANTA — Businessman David Perdue defeated longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the Republican runoff for Georgia's Senate nomination, setting up a nationally significant general election matchup against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Tuesday night's primary runoff win validates the former corporate CEO's campaign as an outsider. The former CEO of Reebok, Dollar General and the failed textile firm Pillowtex, Perdue offered his private sector record and tremendous wealth as proof that he can help solve the nation's ills in a Congress largely devoid of experienced business titans. He spent more than $3 million of his own money blasting Kingston — and other primary rivals before that — as a career politician, including one ad depicting his rivals as crying babies.

“If we want to change Washington, then we've got to change the people we send to Washington,” he would say as he met voters.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Perdue led Kingston by about 8,000 votes — enough for 50.9 percent of the vote. Perdue also led Kingston in the initial May primary, but both fell well shy of the majority necessary to win without a runoff.

National Democrats view Nunn, the 47-year-old daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, as one of their best opportunities to pick up a GOP-held seat. She's raised more than $9 million and reported $2.3 million left to spend this month. Perdue reported less than $800,000, but his personal wealth ensures that his campaign doesn't have to worry about money.

Perdue's win could require a strategic shift for the new Republican nominee and his Democratic opponent, since they now can't simply run against the sitting Congress.

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