Poll: GOP establishment strikes back in Georgia Senate race

Businessman David Perdue (R) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are starting to build leads in a crowded Georgia Senate primary, according to a new poll.

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Perdue has 29 percent support, and Kingston has 19 percent support in the automated poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for NBC's Atlanta affiliate.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has 12 percent support, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is at 11 percent and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) has 10 percent support, according to the survey.

Perdue and Kingston are viewed as more solid general election candidates than Gingrey and Broun by establishment Republicans, who would be relieved to see both make a primary runoff.

The top two vote-winners will advance to a July runoff election, unless someone can win an outright majority in the May primary, which is an unlikely scenario.

Establishment Republicans have expressed serious worries about having either Gingrey or Broun as the nominee against former charity executive Michelle Nunn (D).

The poll suggests that Perdue's and Kingston's cash advantages over their opponents are starting to boost their campaigns ahead of the May 20 primary. The two have already been up regularly with TV ads, while the other candidates have had to save their smaller campaign funds for later in the race. When those candidates start spending what they have, the race might look a bit different.

There has been little public polling of the race. An early February poll released by Citizens United, which is backing Broun, found Gingrey and Broun in the lead.

The automated poll of 508 likely Republican primary voters was conducted from March 16-18.