Kingston, Perdue take flak during GOP debate
by By Walter C. Jones Morris News Service
ATLANTA -- David Perdue and Jack Kingston received attacks from each other and the rest of the Republican Senate candidates Sunday over supposed inconsistencies. The sparring came in a debate televised statewide on Georgia Public Broadcasting and hosted by the Atlanta Press Club.
Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, was a likely target since he's led all the independent polls this year. Kingston, a Savannah congressman, has recently dropped from second to a close third, but the two are the top fundraisers.
Karen Handel, Georgia's former secretary of state, has moved into second but escaped most of the barbs in the 60-minute forum except for Perdue's charge that she used taxpayer funds to buy a luxury SUV while the state was cutting positions.
Perdue went after Kingston for violating a pledge made in 1992 to support of term limits.
"Congressman, if you really believe in term limits, why are you still here?" Perdue asked.
Kingston noted that he's cosponsored five bills on term limits. He challenged Perdue for voting in only one GOP primary in any of the state's he's lived in and for also donating money to a Democratic candidate while living in Massachusetts.
"How could you not vote in a Republican primary and be active in Republican politics?" the congressman asked. "...I think that is extremely relevant."
Perdue replied that he was a businessman and not a politician.
Handel blasted Perdue for the federal stimulus money taken by a company while he served on its board of directors and for outsourcing jobs while an executive at Hagar Clothing Co.
"You took millions in corporate welfare. Even after you railed against the (federal) debt, you contributed to it," she said.
Kingston also got attacked for being a big spender by Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, who zeroed in on a vote for $1 million in sand replacement on Tybee Island when Kingston's home is just 500 feet from the beach. Kingston defended the vote as the continuation of a decades-old effort to protect against erosion and hurricanes.
The candidates have participated in eight debates organized around the state by the Georgia Republican Party as well as other joint events, and it was clear they were growing a little weary of each other. This was the only statewide televised debate before the votes are counted May 20, and they appeared eager to make it count.
Also in the race are Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, attorney Art Gardner and transit engineer Derrick Grayson.
The crowded race means a July runoff is likely, and then the eventual nominee will face likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford in the November general election.
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