WASHINGTON — Now that David Perdue has emerged as Georgia’s Republican Senate nominee with his runoff victory, the race is shaping up as a battle of two candidates pitching themselves as Washington outsiders: Mr. Perdue, a businessman caricatured by Democrats as a heartless fat cat, and Michelle Nunn, painted by Republicans as a liberal masquerading as a moderate.
The contest, which will be one of the most closely watched races of 2014 and one of few where Democrats have hopes of taking a Republican-held seat, could determine control of the Senate. It will play out in a Republican-leaning state where Democrats, citing shifting demographics and an influx of minority voters, believe they can make inroads.
“Republicans just can’t afford to lose it,” said Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, “and Democrats really need to win it.”
That signals an expensive and nasty race, with millions of dollars in spending from outside groups expected.
“You have two outsiders here, people who’ve never held political office before, but the experience advantage actually goes to Perdue because he had to fight through,” Mr. Black said. “Michelle Nunn has been running as Democrat-lite — very lite. So this is going to force her to explain why she’s a Democrat and what policies she supports.”