HEARTBREAK and happiness found their way into Georgia’s Republican strongholds in almost equal measure last night. After winning the party’s nomination for November’s US Senate contest David Perdue (pictured) tepidly thanked his opponent, congressman Jack Kingston, for running “a spirited race”. That is putting it nicely: Mr Kingston ran a series of ads that were as brutal as they were misleading. But bygones are bygones. Mr Perdue declared himself “humbled,” and suggested the outcome was part of “a mission from God”. Oh, and he also mentioned his mum. The cowboy-booted crowd were pleased.
Mr Perdue won the Republican primary runoff with 50.9% of the vote, carrying Atlanta and its surrounding counties. The two men’s support split across the “gnat line”, a part-proverbial, part-geological division separating north Georgia, which generally went for Mr Perdue, a former head of the sports brand Reebok, from south, which preferred Mr Kingston, a tried and tested politician.
Mr Perdue’s victory was something of a surprise. The polls had predicted that Mr Kingston would win. So did all of the more than a dozen academics consulted by Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Centre for Politics, before the race. Mr Kingston was supported by the Republican establishment and the Chamber of Commerce, but Mr Perdue won the day by touting his CEO credentials and status as a political outsider (though he is a cousin of Georgia’s previous governor). On policy, there was little to choose between the two men, who are both staunch conservatives.