Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, has a more than legitimate chance to win the Georgia U.S. Senate seat. As Republicans are passionately committed to taking back the U.S. Senate, and maintaining control of the U.S. House in the November 2014 elections, this would be a disappointing loss. Why disappointing? Georgia is a slightly Republican-leaning state and a state that Republicans have already determined they will win. If David Perdue, the Republican candidate for Senate and cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, does not do a better job of defending his business record, he will lose to Nunn. In the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, Mitt Romney did a poor job of defending his business record against the attacks of President Obama, contributing significantly to his defeat. Romney highly touted his business experience as the primary evidence he knew how to ameliorate the U.S. economy and do a far better job of handling the economy than President Obama. Romney never, however, seemed to respond adequately to President Obama’s attacks on his management of Bain Capital, and never appeared to provide a sufficient response to Obama’s general attacks on his business experience.
David Perdue is in danger of making the same huge mistake Romney made; he’s failing to defend his business experience adequately. Perdue’s business experience is even more important to his candidacy than Romney’s was to his candidacy in 2012. Business experience is the only substantive leadership Perdue has.
Former Senator Nunn is highly respected across the state among Democrats and Republicans. It’s possible that his daughter will be able to benefit from his name recognition and earn enough votes to defeat Perdue. Michelle Nunn is running a highly effective television advertisement about a company, Pillowtex, Perdue once led. It shares the anger of some former employees of the company who were negatively impacted by Perdue’s management of the company. If Perdue wants to stop the adverse impact this advertisement is having on his campaign, then he must run a television advertisement that directly counters Nunn’s Pillowtex advertisement.
Although Republicans are targeting open Senate seats where incumbent Democrats are vulnerable, it’s time for them to send David Perdue some much needed support in Georgia. Some polls show Perdue leading Nunn and some show Nunn leading Perdue, with an average of the polls giving Perdue a slight edge. This race will go right down to the finish.
Perdue is doing an excellent job of casting Nunn as being a rubberstamp vote for President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He says that she will be a “proxy for both Obama and Reid,” and she will be “Obama’s Senator” and “not Georgia’s Senator.” Nunn leadership experience is fairly limited but Perdue has not really done an effective job of exposing it. To win, Perdue must become more aggressive in defending his business record and in exposing Nunn’s limited leadership experience. His current campaign strategy will not be enough to win him the Senate seat. Perdue cannot simply rely on the fact that Georgia is a Republican-leaning state, considering demographics have constantly been moving in favor of Georgia Democrats. He needs to take an honest look at how much of a fight incumbent Governor Nathan Deal is in with Jason Carter, son of former President Jimmy Carter, as evidence of how tough it’s going to be to defeat Nunn.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison