Jack Kingston, an eleven-term Congressman, edged out Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in the Georgia Senate Republican primary Tuesday.
Kingston will now face frontrunner conservative businessman Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) in the runoff primary election in July. In Georgia, a candidate has to win 50 percent to avoid a runoff race.
The Associated Press called the race for Kingston with 64 percent of the total vote in. Kingston was leading by 27.2 percent whereas Handel only got 21 percent. Perdue got 30 percent.
The winner of the runoff race will challenge Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn in November after the retirement of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
A senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Kingston was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce which spent spent $920,000 running supportive ads on his behalf.
Kingston also raised over $5.5 million for his campaign – spending heavily to run TV ads in Atlanta to compete with front-runner David Perdue.
Lacking significant campaign funds, Handel ran a mostly grassroots campaign and was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and former Sen. Rick Santorum.
Handel experienced a late surge in the polls after the Palin endorsement leveraged her support to surpass conservative Georgia Republican congressmen Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Phil Gingrey.
The primary race took a populist streak as Perdue, a former Dollar General and Reebok CEO, came under attack for acting as an out-of-touch elitist.
Perdue and Handel also attacked the three congressmen in the race for being part of the failed Washington establishment in spite of their conservative voting records.