This race is getting interesting. Two candidates are now in a virtual dead heat for the lead — David Perdue and Karen Handel. Last week’s poll by InsiderAdvantage showed 22 percent for Perdue, a cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and former CEO of Dollar General, and 21 percent for Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state. Bumped from second to third place by Handel was Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, 17 percent, followed by fellow Congressmen Paul Broun of Athens, 14 percent, and Phil Gingrey of Marietta, 12 percent, just ahead of undecided at 11 percent.
David Perdue obviously is trading on his cousin’s name recognition. Like a mirror image, a poll in January last year showed former Gov. Perdue led the field of potential candidates with 22.4 percent — essentially the same as the latest poll showing for his cousin David. In that 2013 sampling, Handel was second with 15 percent and Broun had 10.3 percent. Other candidates now running were not included in the GaPundit.com poll.
Sifting through the latest poll findings for Fox5 News, Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage, said: “Kingston has been losing metro Atlanta female support with his ‘folksy’ TV ads for weeks. Handel, who usually does not poll as well with female voters, is picking up significant female support and is starting to leave both David Perdue and Jack Kingston substantially behind with women.” Perdue and Handel also are running ten points or more ahead of Kingston among self-described independent voters planning to vote in the Republican primary. Towery also said he expects the primary “will skew heavily senior in terms of age.”
Perdue showed poor judgment with his disparaging remark about Handel several months ago, saying, “there’s a high school graduate in this race, okay. I’m sorry, these issues are so much broader, so complex.” Handel has made the point that she entered the workplace after graduating from high school, leaving an abusive home at age 17. Her lack of post-secondary formal education didn’t keep her from being elected secretary of state in 2006 with 54 percent of the vote. She ran for governor in 2010 and barely lost to Nathan Deal in the primary. If she makes the runoff in the Senate race, she could be a formidable candidate.
Perdue has the backing of Citizens for a Working America PAC and its half-million-dollar ad campaign attacking Kingston, but Kingston has the support of heavyweight U.S. Chamber of Commerce which could put a lot of money into his campaign, plus at last report he had more cash than any other candidate in the race. So the contest is close enough that Kingston could make it into a runoff if he spends enough on effective TV ads in the next two weeks.
Voters, it’s time to sit up and take notice — and get informed on this hugely important primary election.