Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel has earned all the headlines for her late surge of momentum in her campaign, pulling ahead of more conservative congressmen Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.
But her biggest hurdle remains Jack Kingston, an eleven term member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.
As Tuesday’s Republican primary for Georgia the Georgia Senate race approaches, it’s clear that business leader David Perdue will win first place even though he won’t beat the 50 percent margin to avoid a runoff. That leaves a race for second between Handel and Kingston.
A May 15 InsiderAdvantage poll showed that Kingston was moving back into second by a small margin, after trailing Handel in previous polls.
Tuesday’s election will decide which two candidates will make it to the primary runoff election in July.
Kingston’s strength is his money. The congressman is backed by the Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $920,000 for television and online ads on his behalf. Kingston has also raised over $5.5 million in this cycle according to Open Secrets.
Handel, on the other hand, has only raised just over a million for her Senate race.
But Handel is not concerned about the funding gap, thanks to the enthusiasm of her supporters.
Kingston’s campaign has failed to respond to several requests for comment.
Handel has relied on direct mailings and targeted robocalls from former Governor Sarah Palin and Georgia conservative Erick Erickson, as well as efforts from her dedicated supporters.
Sarah Palin’s endorsement, Handel signaled, was key to sparking momentum for her campaign.
Handel called Palin’s endorsement “incredibly impactful,” pointing to the strength of her voice to the campaign using social media.
Handel’s campaign is not worried about Kingston pointing to a soft margin of support.
Over the weekend, two Georgia Tea Party groups – the Gwinnett Tea Party and Cherokee Tea Party Patriots – moved to support Handel, helping her consolidate support from the conservative grassroots.
Handel also held a rally on Sunday with Erickson just hours before the polls open on Tuesday, who told supporters that Broun and Gingrey no longer had a chance of winning.