BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Businessman David Perdue narrowly defeated longtime U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston in a Republican runoff for Georgia's U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday, setting up a general election matchup against Democrat Michelle Nunn.
In the hotly-contested race to replace Kingston representing coastal Georgia in Congress, Buddy Carter won the Republican nomination over Bob Johnson and Brian Reese of Savannah won the Democratic nomination over Amy Tavio.
As the final votes were counted late Tuesday night, unofficial returns showed Perdue with a lead of less than 9,,000 votes -- a less than 1 percent margin, but outside the limit that would require a recount.
RESULTS: Results from Georgia runoff
"I've never run for anything in my life. I'm humbled," Perdue told supporters gathered at a hotel in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta.
Across town on the Georgia Tech campus, Kingston thanked his supporters and let them know he'll be working for a Perdue win in November. "We will keep Georgia in the Republican column," he said.
Perdue is a former corporate CEO making his first bid for public office. He campaigned as an outsider and called Kingston a career politician who has done little to solve the nation's problems.
Kingston ran up huge margins across southeast Georgia, where he's represented Georgia's 1st Congressional District for 21 years. 3. In his home Chatham County, he won 86 percent, with about 12,500 more votes than Perdue. But Perdue erased Kingston's home base advantage by running more consistently around the rest of the state, particularly in the heavily populated Atlanta and its suburbs.
The Perdue-Nunn race will be one of the most critical matchups of the November midterm elections. Republicans need six more seats to win Senate control for the final two years of President Barack Obama's administration.
Buddy Carter wins by 8 points; Brian Reese by 26 points
Carter, a state senator from Pooler, defeated Savannah surgeon Johnson Tuesday's runoff in the 1st Congressional District, which covers southeast Georgia from the coast to the Florida line. Carter counted on his political experience and connections, while Johnson courted tea party voters.
Carter has served in the state Legislature since 2006. Before that he was mayor of Pooler, a small city outside Savannah.
In the November election, Carter will face Reese, who defeated Tavio of Richmond Hill in a runoff election Tuesday in the 1st Congressional District.
Unofficial counts showed Reese winning 63 percent of the vote.
Kingston stepped aside after 22 years as the district's congressman to run for the Senate. That may give Democrats their best chance in years of picking up the seat. However, the district was drawn to strongly favor Republicans.
Democrat Valarie Wilson won her party's nomination for state school superintendent.
Early returns Tuesday showed Wilson winning about 54 percent of the vote against state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
Wilson was chair of the City of Decatur's School Board from 2005 to 2011. She previously worked as president of the Georgia School Boards Association.
She will face one of two Republicans, Michael Buck or Richard Woods, in November's general election. The GOP primary runoff was too close to call Tuesday night.
Glynn County voters chose Mark Stambaugh for an at-large county commission seat over Clyde Taylor.
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