ATLANTA — U.S. Sen. David Perdue appeared on his way Tuesday night to winning a second term representing Georgia on Capitol Hill.
Perdue, a Republican, was leading Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff 54% to 44% late on Election Night with 2,071 of Georgia’s 2,656 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. Libertarian Shane Hazel had received only 2% of the vote.
With few Georgia voters splitting their tickets, the Perdue-Ossoff contest was mirroring closely the presidential results in the Peach State. GOP President Donald Trump was well ahead of Democratic challenger Joe Biden in Georgia late Tuesday night, 54% to 45%.
Perdue, 70, was elected to the Senate in 2014 after a 40-year career in business that included serving as CEO of Reebok and Dollar General.
He spent his first term in the Senate as one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies, supporting the president’s tax cut legislation in 2017, Trump’s get-tough trade policy with China, and, more recently, the president’s much-criticized handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ossoff, 33, an investigative journalist who runs a documentary production firm, entered elective politics three years ago, losing a special election for a congressional seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. This year marked his first run at statewide office.
In what turned into a brutal campaign during the final weeks, Perdue portrayed Ossoff as backing the national Democrats’ “radical socialist” agenda including a government takeover of health care, defunding the police and abolishing ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
The senator also accused Ossoff of harboring ties to a Chinese company, charges an Ossoff campaign spokesman later said pertained to a Hong Kong media company that bought one of Ossoff’s films.
For his part, Ossoff has slammed Perdue for following Trump’s lead in downplaying the threat posed by coronavirus during the pandemic’s early days.
The challenger even called Perdue a “crook” during a televised debate last month, referring to purchases of stock in a company that produces PPE (personal protective equipment) after some senators received a private briefing in January about the looming threat of COVID-19.
Perdue noted he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee.