Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel will endorse one of her former Senate Republican primary rivals as the race heads to a runoff.
Handel said Tuesday that she will back Rep. Jack Kingston in his bid to succeed Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who is retiring. Kingston must beat businessman David Perdue on July 22 to challenge the Democratic nominee, nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Handel will publicly endorse Kingston at an event Wednesday afternoon. She finished third in the primary, with 22 percent of the vote, so Kingston would receive a boost if those who supported her candidacy shift their allegiances to him.
Handel's backing of Kingston over Perdue may not strike any political observers as shocking, given that the former Dollar General and Reebok CEO had criticized Handel as the “high school graduate in this race.”
Handel received support in the primary from the conservative wing of the Republican Party, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The ideological cleavages in the runoff aren't so clear cut, however. While Kingston won the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he was also backed by Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity. After the primary, conservative commentator Erick Erickson came out in favor of Kingston’s candidacy, as did Atlanta Tea Party Co-Chairwoman Julianne Thompson.
Perdue had characterized both Handel and Kingston as "professional politicians" in television ads, while casting himself as more of a political outsider.