MARIETTA — U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who is challenging David Perdue in the July 22 run-off for Georgia’s open Senate seat, gathered supporters and media on Marietta Square Wednesday morning to announce an endorsement from Rep. Phil Gingrey.
Gingrey, who also ran in the GOP primary, threw his support to Kingston after failing to advance to the run-off last month.
“Jack Kingston and I have been friends and colleagues for 12 years,” Gingrey told the audience gathered in the lobby of the Strand Theatre. “I’m happy to announce that I am supporting the gentleman from Savannah.”
A representative of Marietta for 11 years, Gingrey said he could help Kingston gain a larger foothold in Cobb, where he finished third behind Perdue and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.
Although Gingrey previously stated he would not be endorsing any other candidate in the primary, he said Wednesday the encouragement of constituents and supporters convinced him to back Kingston.
Kingston says he hopes Gingrey will campaign for him across his home turf in Cobb.
“We hope that he will campaign, not only in Marietta and Cobb County, but across the state of Georgia,” Kingston said of Gingrey. “He is well-known and beloved throughout the state, and we’re very proud to be on the same team with him.”
Kingston, who represents the coastal district that contains Savannah, faces self-professed political outsider David Perdue in the contest for the Republican nomination.
Whoever triumphs on July 22 goes on to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of Sam Nunn, the former Democratic senator from Georgia, in the general election. Perdue has served as the CEO of Family Dollar and Reebok, and is cousin to former Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Kingston addressed accusations from Perdue’s camp that Gingrey’s endorsement further underscored the Savannah congressman as an “insider” given his position in Congress since 1993.
“I have tried my best to keep this race on the issues and not do much labeling,” Kingston said.
“What we’ve been trying to do is unite the conservative family, from tea party to chamber to mainstream Republicans,” he explained. “Because we believe that united, the conservative family will prevail, and not just in November but also in taking back the Senate and taking back the White House in 2016.”
In the weeks since the primary vote, Handel has also lined up behind Kingston, as have members of the state’s congressional delegation.
Kingston also touted endorsements from Sean Hannity and tea party leader Julianne Thompson during the press conference.
In serving together in the U.S. House for over a decade, the pair of congressmen claim they have grown close.
Still, they say the fierce competition they endured in the primary didn’t dampen their friendship.
“I think what we have shown here, is that friends can compete and still walk away friends,” Kingston explained. “And to me, that’s a very important statement in today’s environment of politics.”