Kingston, as expected, on Wednesday got the endorsement of fellow Congressman Phil Gingrey of Marietta, who ran fourth in the primary behind tea party favorite Karen Handel, who endorsed Kingston last week. An endorsement is likely to follow from the other Congressman eliminated in the primary, Rep. Paul Broun of Athens.
Although endorsements may not count for much as a rule, they can help. Perdue’s big problem is he probably maxed out on votes in the May 20 primary with his campaign against career politicians — meaning Kingston, Gingrey, Broun and Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state.
Perdue’s strategy failed, a point made by Handel when she announced her support for Kingston. While not backing off her theme that Washington needs new blood, Handel said, “Hitting the ground with some political experience is important.” She said that in the primary, “the people Jack serves every day gave him an outstanding job performance evaluation. The 74 percent of the vote he received there speaks volumes about how well Jack has served the people in his district.” Kingston’s congressional district in southeast Georgia includes the coast and, ironically, Perdue’s home on St. Simons Island.
Kingston’s campaign is rolling along full speed, while Perdue’s recent news included opening a new office in Columbus with more openings coming around the state. Perdue is now playing the tax return card, trying to push Kingston into releasing 10 years of returns. Perdue has made 10 years of his tax returns available for media review. We’ll see if this resonates with the voters in the runoff.
Meanwhile, Kingston is beating Perdue hands down on endorsements. While Perdue has won over talk show host and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, Kingston has lined up support that ranges from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to such notable conservatives as National Tea Party Express leader Julianne Thompson, RedState.com editor Erick Erickson, both of Georgia, and Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
Kingston also has gained the backing of key figures in the Bulldog Nation, including none other than running back Herschel Walker and Barbara Dooley, wife of former Bulldog coach and AD Vince Dooley. Walker appeared in Athens with Kingston, a UGA graduate, to announce his endorsement, saying he had known the congressman for a long time. They are teammates in the biennial Congressional Football Game for Charity, a fundraiser for children of fallen police officers.
The endorsement has become a television ad running statewide, paid for by the U.S. Chamber, tapping into the popularity of Walker and the UGA football fan base. That’s a tough challenge for Georgia Tech graduate Perdue.