Going into last night’s primaries, the biggest mystery for chattering classers was whether Jack Kingston or Karen Handel would make a runoff with David Perdue in the GOP GA SEN race. Since YORE (Year of the Republican Establishment) memesters were excited about a Perdue-Kingston primary, I became a bit emotionally invested in Handel making the cut. But there’s only so much you can care about the candidate of Erick Erickson and Sarah Palin having a good night.
I wrote up my impressions in an insta-column late last night for TPMCafe. I guess it was coherent, or at least early, since it’s currently running at the top of the page at TPM. In any event, it’s reasonably clear that a combination of money and geography did the trick for Kingston. He won huge margins in his southeast Georgia base, and as the top fundraiser in the race (over $5 million at the time of the April 30 finance filing, not counting the mil or so the U.S. Chamber was spending for him), he was able to run enough TV ads to perform respectably elsewhere. And speaking of TV ads, self-funder David Perdue cut deeply into the metro Atlanta votes that Karen Handel won in her gubernatorial race in 2010. I suppose that’s appropriate, since it’s not at all clear Handel would have been in the late running had Perdue not egregriously screwed up by disrespecting her educational credentials in a video that came out in early April.
In any event, I expect a long, vicious, expensive runoff campaign between these two men. Kingston’s already been campaigning like the second coming of Jim DeMint for a good while now, and has drawn a bead on Perdue as a rich RINO who built his wealth on the bones of unemployed workers. If his benefactors at the Chamber mind him running down a successful Job Creator (not to mention trashing their Common Core initiative), they haven’t said so by cutting off his financial lifeline. And I’m guessing Perdue will respond with his own ideological salvos, blasting Kingston as a Big Spending appropriator. I’m sure the Michelle Nunn camp would have been happier with a Paul Broun/Phil Gingrey runoff. But given enough time, Perdue and Kingston can certainly work their way down to that level.