David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston have advanced to a runoff in the Georgia Republican Senate nomination primary. And while we're sure they celebrated, campaigning starts right now.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Perdue received 30.6 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press, which called the race. Kingston garnered 25.8 percent. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel came in third with 22 percent.
Perdue and Kingston will face one another in a runoff election on July 22.
Georgia election law requires that a candidate get at least 50 percent plus one vote in order to win. No one in the crowded GOP field did that Tuesday night.
So that brings us to July, when Perdue and Kingston will square off to decide which of them will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November.
The runoff was the result, at least in part, of the large slate of candidates - seven people. Perdue and Kingston handily beat the competition, including candidates backed by the tea party movement. Rep. Phil Gingrey took 10 percent of the vote, followed by Rep. Paul Broun (9.6 percent), transit engineer Derrick Grayson (1 percent) and patent attorney Arthur Gardner (0.9 percent).
The runoff may be the only expected development in a race that has taken twists and turns, including a shift toward nastiness in the waning weeks and a number of controversial statements from candidates.
Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, is a political neophyte with a big war chest. He has name recognition in the state thanks to his cousin, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
"Georgia Republicans have spoken tonight," Perdue said in his victory speech Tuesday. "They're concerned about the mess in Washington, like you and I are. And I believe they are looking for an alternative."
Kingston has been in Washington for 22 years and is not afraid to tout his Beltway credentials. He has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"We are absolutely going to turn this country around," Kingston said, telling supporters he planned on engaging in retail politics, criss-crossing the state to "talk to every person in Georgia who is interested in this race."
Handel cast herself as a more conservative choice to Perdue and Kingston. She was a vice president at the Susan G. Komen Foundation and resigned after acknowledging that she supported the organization’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood.
The runoff between Kingston and Perdue is bound to be a lively one, said Kerwin Swint, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University.
Perdue and Kingston, Swint said, "is going to be an expensive, mean runoff."