- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - With an infusion of cash into the race for Georgia’s open Senate seat, national Democrats are signaling they believe the state is still in play with less than three weeks left before the Nov. 4 election.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday unveiled the first ad of a nearly $1 million TV buy. The ad attacks Republican David Perdue over remarks he’s made on education. The ad buy marks the first time the committee is spending directly to help Michelle Nunn, whom Democrats have said is one of their best chances to pick up a seat in the Senate.

Polls suggest a tightening race, and the Nunn campaign is claiming they have momentum after a 2005 court deposition surfaced earlier this month in which Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, spoke about spending “most of my career” on outsourcing. Nunn has been hammering Perdue in TV ads and speeches over the deposition.

National Democrats haven’t ignored the Georgia race, but the influx of cash hasn’t reached the levels Nunn’s campaign consultants had hoped for. In a 144-page strategy memo accidentally made public earlier this year, Nunn’s consultants estimated an $8 million investment.

The help for Nunn came as Democrats decided not to continue advertising in the Kentucky Senate race after spending $2 million to help Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has seen her support erode in the polls as she looks to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The good news is that they are not pulling out of Georgia but they are doubling down,” said Tharon Johnson, a Georgia-based Democratic strategist who oversaw President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid in the South.

Nationally, Republicans are looking to pick up six seats in a bid to take control of the Senate.

Perdue has fought back on the outsourcing attacks, saying his career was about creating jobs, not shipping them overseas. Republican strategist Eric Tanenblatt noted the national GOP has committed more money to Perdue.

“That’s because the Democrats have to defend more Senate seats across the country,” said Tanenblatt, who served as fundraising co-chair for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has spent $2.4 million in Georgia with plans for an additional $1.6 million between now and Nov. 4. That’s in addition to about $1.4 million the committee has spent in coordination with the Perdue campaign.

The DSCC, meanwhile, has invested about $1.5 million in Georgia but it’s been largely behind the scenes. There’s been a broad effort to identify and contact voters who have either never engaged in the political process or typically sit out elections in non-presidential years.

Nunn said voters would decide the race, not outside money.

“I believe ultimately that the grassroots efforts that we have put forward are what will be decisive in this race,” she said, moments before casting her ballot at an early voting location in Atlanta.

After campaigning in Marietta with Sen. John McCain, Perdue said: “All I can tell you is, the reaction in the state hasn’t changed in the last year and a half. People are very concerned (that) Washington is broken.”


Associated Press Writer Kathleen Foody in Marietta contributed to this report. Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Christina .

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