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Kingston, Perdue head to runoff

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The Senate race in Georgia headed to an expected conclusion for its first stage yesterday, with no Republican candidate securing a majority of votes to garner the GOP nomination. David Perdue and Jack Kingston will square off in a July runoff to determine the Republican nominee to take Saxby Chambliss's place in the Senate next year.

With 155 of 159 counties reporting, Perdue had just over 181,000 votes (30.56%) while Kingston had 154,000 votes (25.96%). Karen Handel, despite being outspent by her opponents by an 8:1 margin, came close but was unable to secure a place in the runoff despite a later rush of reported votes. Handel had about 130,000 votes (21.8%).

Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, who are both congressmen who left their House seats to pursue Senate bids, faltered in the last few weeks and finished with approximately 10% of the vote apiece. Gingrey had about 60,000 votes while Broun finished with about 58,000.

Despite all of the candidates' attacks on Perdue over the last few weeks, Perdue was able to secure a place in the runoff. Most polls had a three-way race too close to call leading up to the primary, but Perdue managed to pull ahead in the past few weeks thanks to a television ad blitz that could not be easily matched by Handel's camp. Perdue also self-funded his campaign, dumping at least three million dollars of his own fortune into the race.

None of the defeated candidates made any sort of endorsement last night, though Gingrey and Broun would probably endorse their fellow congressman Kingston. Handel asked her supporters in Roswell last night to help elect the Republican candidate that "they think can beat Michelle Nunn in November".

Nunn won the Democratic nomination with 75% of the vote (thought Republican votes outnumbered Democrats by a 2:1 margin). She will now wait, like the rest of Georgia, for Perdue and Kingston to battle it out again until July 22 when the runoff election will take place.