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February 05, 2014 1:16 PM Wingnutapalooza Update

By Ed Kilgore

There’s a new poll out (by Kellyanne Conway for Citizens United) of the Senate GOP Republican primary field in Georgia, which I’ve described as a “right-wing petri dish” and that could have an impact on party control of the Senate.

The poll showed Phil Gingrey leading with 19%, followed by Karen Handel with 14%, Paul Broun (Citizen United’s candidate) with 13%, Jack Kingston with 11% and David Perdue at 8%.

Gingrey’s benefitting from a re-redistricting last decade that let him cumulatively represent a big chunk of northwest Georgia (and the northwestern Atlanta suburbs) during his 12 years in the House. Handel has run statewide (narrowly losing to Nathan Deal in a 2010 gubernatorial runoff). Broun is everybody’s truest of “true conservatives.” But what’s most interesting to me is that the candidates with the most money, Kingston (an appropriator) and Perdue (a self-funder), are running in the last two spots among viable candidates. They also have the least conservative street cred in the field.

The campaign has been a veritable wingnutapalooza, as explained in a recent AP story on the race by Bill Barrow:

All eight Republicans favor repeal of Obama’s health care overhaul. All oppose abortion rights. All three congressmen voted against the bipartisan deal to end the partial government shutdown last fall, and Perdue, Handel and the lesser-known candidates all say they’d have voted the same way
.

Opposing an end to the government shutdown is the closest thing we have to a sure-fire litmus test for the “movement conservative” wing of the GOP, and all the GA GOP candidates pass. With the primary in May and a runoff in July, the dynamics indicate a long, vicious runoff fight that could well revolve around which candidate is the fiercest ideologue, particular if Broun makes it.

Meanwhile, a late-Janaury PPP survey showed Democrat Michelle Nunn with a narrow lead over each of the four most likely GOP nominees, Gingrey (45-41), Handel (44-40), Kingston (44-40) and Broun (42-41).

It’s going to be fun.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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