Georgia's Chaotic GOP Senate Primary Gives Way to Runoff

In Georgia's competitive Senate race, Republicans have narrowed their choices to two.

The results Tuesday night seemed to be a blow to the Tea Party, though not necessarily to conservatives.

As expected, businessman David Perdue topped the field of seven GOP candidates vying in Tuesday's primary to run against Democrat Michelle Nunn this fall.

Nunn won her primary by a wide margin tonight.

Because he apparently collected less than 50 percent of the vote, Perdue will advance to a primary runoff on July 22 against fellow Republican Rep. Jack Kinston.

With 62.3 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called Perdue the winner, with Rep. Jack Kingston trailing at 27.9 percent and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in third with 20.4 percent. The Associated Press later declared Kingston the second-place candidate on Tuesday and Perdue's July 22 opponent.

If Georgia Republicans will see a runoff between the two candidates who bested their competitors in both polls and money throughout the primary race.

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The cousin of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, David Perdue was formerly the CEO of Dollar General and enjoyed the most outside-money support of any candidate, with a super PAC called Citizens for a Working America spending more than $1 million to support Perdue and attack Kingston (The group has existed since the 2010 election cycle but hasn't been a major player nationally). Purdue supports a balanced-budget amendment, Obamacare repeal and eliminating "redundant" agencies from the federal government.

Running against three sitting GOP congressmen and a former Georgia secretary of state, Perdue has run as a political outsider, promising a perspective outside the establishment.

The tea party favorite, Karen Handel, failed to advance. Handel collected endorsements from Sarah Palin, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and blogger/commentator Erick Erickson, all of whom campaigned for her in the state. National tea party groups did not spend money to support her.

Kingston, while not a tea partier, has a conservative record, nonetheless. An 11-term representative, he has not been a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, but he carries a 95.62 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, and National Journal ranked him the 17 th-most-conservative House member in 2013. Kingston has campaigned against immigration reform and voted against the bill that ended the government shutdown in October.

In a coup over the businessman Perdue, Kingston also secured the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While he lacked the super PAC support Perdue enjoyed, Kingston out-fundraised all of his rivals, bringing in more than $3.1 million as of April 30. Perdue had raised just over $1.6 million at that time. The Chamber aired ads to support Kingston.

Two other sitting GOP congressmen, Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, failed to gain traction and were poised to finish behind Handel.

The winner of the July 22 primary will run against Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia and the former CEO of the George H.W. Bush-founded Points of Light Foundation.

Nunn leads both Perdue and Kingston narrowly, according to polls.

This story has been updated to reflect Kingston advancing to the July 22 primary runoff.