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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Game On in GA: Nunn in Good Position to Grab Senate Seat for Dems

Georgia Republicans have nominated David Perdue to hold Saxby Chambliss’s senate seat for the GOP, and all indications are that it will be a close race against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. Some regard Perdue’s win as an upset. The AJC’s ‘Political Insider’ Jim Galloway has posted “5 reasons David Perdue shocked Georgia’s political world to win GOP Senate nod,” noting his money advantage, a possible anti-incumbency trend, his ground game edge and other factors. TDS managing editor Ed Kilgore explains at Talking Points Memo:”

In the end, with turnout barely reaching double-digits, down about 20 percent from the primary, geography appeared to have decided the contest. Perdue augmented his primary advantage in metro Atlanta and middle Georgia just enough to exceed Kingston’s base in his coastal congressional district, with Kingston’s Atlanta endorsers Handel and Gingrey not delivering enough votes to make up the difference.

With benefit of hindsight, Perdue is much in the genteel conservative mold of Isakson and Chambliss, with the polished, upper-class persona which state Republicans like to have in the U. S. Senate. Unlike Chambliss and Isakson, however, Perdue’s sometimes graceless comments and dubious work history present problems, which Nunn’s campaign will surely amplify. In their Atlanta Constitution report on Perdue’s victory over Rep. Jack Kingston, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy observe:

Perdue now faces Nunn, who has amassed a considerable bankroll and is leading in some early polls. The strength and crossover appeal of the CEO of nonprofit Points of Light — not to mention the scars of a bloody, nine-week GOP runoff — have Democrats convinced they could break Republicans’ hold on the state.
“There is a clear contrast in this race between Michelle Nunn, a leader who has spent the last 25 years leading volunteer organizations and lifting communities up, and David Perdue, someone who has spent his career enriching himself while oftentimes tearing companies and communities apart,” Georgia Democratic Party Chairman DuBose Porter said in a statement. “Georgians want leaders who will fix the mess in Washington, not someone who puts personal profit ahead of regular people.”

At the Washington Monthly, Kilgore describes Perdue’s vulnerabilities:

…Against Perdue, every weapon used against Mitt Romney would be available, but with Nunn comparing her nonprofit experience with the Republican’s money-grubbing and worker-screwing….Perdue’s shown a tendency to commit gaffes. He gave a huge opening to Karen Handel in the primary by mocking her lack of higher education in casual remarks that were taped and later released. And in a newspaper interview later on, he mentioned “revenues” as part of the federal budget picture without ritualistically swearing he’s die before ever accepting a tax increase, which was turned by his opponents into a dishonest but effective assertion that he’d called for a tax increase. Maybe the GOP would surround Perdue with gaffe-proofers if he won tonight, or insist he limit his entire campaign to the kind of soft-focus saturation ads that made him a contender to begin with.

As Kilgore notes of Perdue in the TPM post cited earlier, “In many respects, he’s a deep-fried Mitt Romney with shallower pockets.”
If Georgia’s swing voters want real change, it’s hard to see how they could favor a business-as-usual Republican over Nunn, who has a significant track record doing real humanitarian work. She is also well-regarded by Atlanta’s African American community, and if Georgia’s Black leaders campaign for her in the state’s five largest cities (Atlanta, Columbus, Augusta, Macon and Savannah), she just might pull it off.

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