Republicans come out swinging against Nunn, Carter at GOP unity event

The top candidates on Georgia's Republican ticket pulled no punches at a Wednesday event meant to show the GOP was solidly behind Senate candidate David Perdue.

All that establishment angst over Perdue's candidacy? Gone, said GOP chair John Padgett, who called the former Fortune 500 executive a "rock-solid conservative with a stellar record in business" who can defeat Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who steered clear of picking favorites in the primary or the runoff, made sure to point out how happy he is he'll be sharing the top of the ticket with Perdue. Deal, of course, faces a stiff challenge himself from state Sen. Jason Carter.

"He and I have a lot in common. We are both the children of two public school teachers in the state of Georgia. Both of us grew up in middle Georgia. We know the values that Georgians hold. We were educated in the public schools and we went to colleges here in the state of Georgia. Those are the kinds of contrasts that I think will be drawn here in the next couple of months."

Carter, who was born in Atlanta and grew up in Chicago, went to Duke University before graduating from the University of Georgia's law school. Nunn spent much of her childhood in the Washington area and graduated from University of Virginia and later got a master's degree from Harvard.

Deal then took aim at  the famous lineage of the top Democratic contenders. Carter is a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter and Nunn's father is former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.

"There's another difference. We're not running on our namesakes. Our opponents are going around the country raising money because they have good names. I don't have a problem with that ... But you know, we believe a candidate ought to stand on their own record, on their own priorities."

Left unsaid was Perdue's famous lineage. His first cousin, the former Gov. Sonny Perdue, was his highest-profile supporter, and much of his campaign network came from his relative's base.

Perdue, for his part, stuck to the same line he gravitated toward after his victory last night: The race will be more about President Barack Obama than about Michelle Nunn.

"My role in this in the fall is to prosecute the failed record of this administration. ... I believe this economy is ready to bust out if we just take some common-sense free government principles.

Democrats are already seizing on the brutal attacks Perdue's GOP rivals targeted against him during the bruising primary and the nine-week runoff. Nunn's backers released this video this morning:

Perdue sought to brush the concerns aside.

"Those things really didn't stick. The people of Georgia heard our message. The message is we have a broken model in Washington. And I've offered up an alternative to that broken model, and that's what people are responding to."

Absent from the meeting was Rep. Jack Kingston, narrowly vanquished by Perdue on Tuesday, who was invited but did not attend.

Perdue said they had a "delightful" conversation and shared strategy of how to win in November.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.