Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) leads a crowded Republican field to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), according to a new poll first obtained by The Hill.
Gingrey draws 19 percent support in the seven-candidate field, according to a survey conducted by Republican pollster KellyAnne Conway for the conservative group Citizens United, which is backing Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.).
In second place behind Gingrey is former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R), who pulls 14 percent support, followed by Broun, at 13 percent. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) is at 11 percent in the poll and wealthy businessman David Perdue (R) is at 8 percent.
The close poll shows a wide-open field — and potential for concern for establishment Republicans. Both Broun and Gingrey have a history of gaffes and are considered seriously flawed general election candidates.
The candidates will face off in a May primary. If no candidate wins 50 percent, the top two vote-getters will face off in a July runoff, the most likely scenario.
Both Broun and Gingrey are also viewed as the favorites of many Tea Party voters, so in a runoff election, one might pick up much of the other's support.
Democrats are excited about their candidate, former charity executive Michelle Nunn, who is stockpiling money for the race.
Citizens United argues the poll shows Broun to be in a strong position.
"Dr. Paul Broun is in a solid position to win this important primary that will decide whether Georgians send a true conservative fighter to the United States Senate," said Citizens United President David Bossie. "The Washington establishment fears a Dr. Paul Broun candidacy, because he is not running to become a member of their club. I have full faith that Georgia voters will nominate the only candidate who will work with conservative Senator Ted Cruz to stand up for our shared conservative principles."
The live-caller poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by Polling Company Inc./Woman Trend, Conway's firm, on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. It has a 3.9 percent margin of error.
— This post was updated at 7:45 a.m.