The lineup for one of the most anticipated races of the 2014 election season will take form Tuesday in Georgia when Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue square off in a hotly-contested primary runoff.
The winner will take on Michelle Nunn, a prized Democrat recruit who represents one of the party’s best bets of capturing a Republican held Senate seat in its bid to prevent the GOP from winning control of the chamber.
“Folks, the congressman has been in Washington for 22 years,” said Mr. Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue. “The decision in this race is very simple: If you like what is going on in Washington, then vote for my opponent.”
Mr. Kingston has held a steady lead in the polls since the seven-way May primary that didn’t produce a winner, and has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as several top national and statewide GOP officials, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Secretary of State Karen C. Handel, who finished third in the GOP primary after winning the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Mr. Kingston also stands to benefit from the runoff race for his House seat in southeast Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, where state Sen. Buddy Carter faces Bob Johnson, another tea party favorite who also received Mrs. Palin’s endorsement.
Republican analysts say the congressional race could help Mr. Kingston by driving up turnout in his political backyard, which could be important after his struggles in the voter rich metropolitan Atlanta during the primary.
An InsiderAdvantage poll released last week showed that Mr. Kingston held a 46 percent to 41 percent lead over Mr. Perdue among likely GOP primary voters. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, and showed that 13 percent of voters were undecided.
Political analysts said that it is too early to write off Mr. Perdue because turnout is unpredictable in runoff races.
“It’s close enough that we shouldn’t be too surprised if Perdue ends up winning,” said Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Republicans said that could help explain why Mr. Kingston has refused to say whether he supports impeaching President Obama.
Mr. Perdue has suggested he would support impeachment if Mr. Obama’s offenses were “egregious enough.”