Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate sparred at an Athens/Oconee GOP meeting Monday night, and they all have at least one thing in common—their sights are set on David Perdue.
Perdue, a former Dollar General CEO and cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, is leading in recent polls, though about a quarter of voters are undecided, so it's no surprise that he's in the crosshairs.
Rep. Paul Broun of Athens led off. Referring to fellow Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, he told the audience that he's the only reliable conservative in the race because two other congressmen have been in Washington "appropriating" (Kingston serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee). The other candidates have never served in federal office, so they're unknown quantities, he said.
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel's pitch is that she's the best candidate to take on presumptive Democratic Nominee Michelle Nunn because she's resistant to "war on women" attacks.
Handel singled out Perdue, saying the self-described "outsider" has never voted in a Republican primary (that's not quite true). She scolded Broun, Kingston and Gingrey, as well.
"They've had an opportunity to do everything they've talked about, and they haven't done it," she said.
Kingston played up his Athens roots—he was raised here, and his mother co-founded the Clarke County Republican Women group.
He repeated Handel's attack on Perdue, but blamed gridlock in Washington on the Democrat-controlled Senate.
"We got it done in the House," Kingston said. "We shut down the Pelosi machine. The problem is in the Senate."
Also running are lawyer Art Gardner and minister Derrick Grayson.