Jack Kingston's Senate runoff loss means less clout in Washington for Georgia

  • Follow Elections

SAVANNAH, Ga. — For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night – winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

Rep. Jack Kingston: Lawmaker was defeated by David Perdue in a primary runoff.   David Goldman
David Goldman
Rep. Jack Kingston: Lawmaker was defeated by David Perdue in a primary runoff.

That streak ended Tues­day, along with his 22-year career on Capitol Hill.

The Savannah Republican fell a few thousand votes short in his primary runoff for the U.S. Senate, losing the GOP nomination for the open seat to businessman David Perdue.

“If you never hear or see from me again, I’ve had more of my fair share of the action, the fun and the honor of serving,” Kingston told reporters after conceding.

The news hit especially hard in coastal and southeast Georgia, where Kingston has represented the 1st Congressional District since 1993. Back home, he was known for an aw-shucks attitude that disguised an ability to get things done – whether it was replacing a constituent’s expired passport at the last minute, funding new Army barracks or pushing through a $706 million harbor expansion for Savannah’s port.

“It’s like, ‘Oh my God, he knows how to get around Washington and get things going,’ ” said Lis Overton, who heads the Chatham County Republican Party. “We’re all a little depressed right now.”

Kingston’s defeat lessens Georgia’s political experience in Washington. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring, and all three incumbent congressmen who sought his Senate seat – Kingston and fellow GOP Reps. Paul Broun of Athens and Phil Gingrey of Marietta – have been sent home by voters.

“We’ll lose influence,” said Lindsay Thomas, the former Democratic congressman whose decision to leave the House in 1992 opened the door for Kingston to run. “To me, the saddest thing about losing Jack is he would’ve walked onto the Senate floor with immediate credibility. They wouldn’t wonder, ‘How is he going to vote and can I trust him?’ ”

Kingston should have time to attempt a comeback if he chooses. If Gov. Nathan Deal wins re-election, Georgia will have an open race for governor in 2018.

Overton said she would like to see Kingston consider running for Savannah mayor. Opportunities should also abound in the private sector.

“I really think the Lord’s going to open a door,” Kingston said.

His friend Eric Johnson in Savannah, a former Republican leader of the Georgia Senate, said Kingston might have little desire to run another statewide campaign. Johnson ran for governor in 2010, finishing third in the GOP primary.

“You put your blood, sweat and tears and life into that thing. And now that you know what it’s like, it may be tough to do that again,” Johnson said. “He’ll find something to do. He’s too young to retire. He has too much energy and likes people too much.”

In 1992, Kingston was a state legislator who made a living selling agribusiness insurance when he became the first Republican since Reconstruction elected to Congress from his southeast Georgia district. He got a political boost in his second term thanks to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress engineered by Newt Gingrich.

Kingston got assigned to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, giving him considerable influence to steer federal dollars back home. Fort Stewart and other military bases in Kingston’s district benefited from new construction and expansions. The Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick, Georgia’s largest bridge, was completed in 2003 thanks to Kingston’s help funding its $110 million construction.

Kingston got Congress to authorize a major deepening of the Port of Savannah’s shipping channel in 1999. Earlier this year, he helped the harbor project clear its final bureaucratic hurdles so that dredging can finally begin 15 years later.

Regardless of their differences, even Democrats gave Kingston credit for putting constituents before politics.

Tony Center was the Democratic Party chairman for Chatham County in 2005 when he frantically called a Kingston staffer at night after discovering his passport was expired just two days before an overseas trip. Kingston’s office called the State Department and Center picked up his new passport the next day.

“I got a phone call from Jack. He said, ‘I heard you had a problem and I just wanted to make sure it got taken care of,’” Center said. “I was chairman of the Democratic committee at the time and he could’ve blown me off. But he was my congressman and he helped me.”

Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
stuaby
4919
Points
stuaby 07/27/14 - 08:35 pm
6
1
An Associated Press

An Associated Press article.

A 20+ year politician lost! Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Now nothing will ever be the same!

Please.

I think that the AP hacks are starting to worry about a conservative groundswell with the crying over Kingston, et. al.

We shall see. I'm not so sure that it'll happen.

bright idea
911
Points
bright idea 07/27/14 - 08:41 pm
7
1
If he was so great

the Savannah Harbor dredging would be done by now. He is just another politician who assumed he had a lifetime appointment to DC.

curly123053
5359
Points
curly123053 07/27/14 - 10:14 pm
5
1
Goodbye

Another gangster from the Republican Establishment having to divorce his lobbyists! Good riddance!

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 07/28/14 - 04:27 am
7
1
Whoopie a 20+ year politician lost.

Like too many that went there to clean up Washington, he went to the darkside, and became part of the problem.

We need more new faces that will listen, at least a term or term.
Then we need to vote them out and replace those with people that
haven't turned off their hearing aids, except around re-election time.

Besides like most Washington Politicians, he and his family are set for life.

Riverman1
93481
Points
Riverman1 07/28/14 - 04:33 am
6
0
Change is Good

The opposite of this article would be Georgians welcome new political faces. Change of office holders is a good thing. No one should spend 22 years in Washington.

seenitB4
97252
Points
seenitB4 07/28/14 - 04:56 am
6
1
No one should spend 22 years in Washington.

Maybe a President should only spend 5 at the most.

seenitB4
97252
Points
seenitB4 07/28/14 - 04:59 am
6
1
I liked Kingston

I thought he was a people person & actually tried to help Georgians...but, the time has come for a change..a shakeup of sorts.

Washington needs a turnover like they have never seen before..I think, & hope it is coming.

curly123053
5359
Points
curly123053 07/28/14 - 06:56 am
5
0
Term Limits

We need term limits and a major overhaul of the Congress and Senate !! We need to do away with full pay benefits after they leave office and make them more accountable to having to earn a retirement just like the rest of us. I would say no more than 12 years in office which is the same as president.
Many of them start actually wanting to serve the people, but when those lobbyists start on them they change their allegiances.

corgimom
38318
Points
corgimom 07/28/14 - 07:02 am
2
1
curly, a President can only

curly, a President can only serve 8 years, or two terms.

CobaltGeorge
175500
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/28/14 - 07:21 am
1
1
8 Years, Ha

3 years too many for the one serving today!

curly123053
5359
Points
curly123053 07/28/14 - 07:36 am
2
0
Term limits

Corgi, you're correct my error. On the two terms, but I think the president can serve up to 10 years. This is to give the vice president who ends up finishing the term of the president two full terms. So if Obama gets impeached we could wind up with President Biden for the next 10 years. How scary is that thought?

nanowerx
1394
Points
nanowerx 07/28/14 - 07:41 am
0
0
.

.

nanowerx
1394
Points
nanowerx 07/28/14 - 07:37 am
2
0
good

There is no love loss from me knowing an establishment politician doesn't have control over Georgia anymore. Kingston played the political party and religion cards whenever he could instead of, oh I don't know, actually making things happen and being a leader.

Bizkit
35499
Points
Bizkit 07/28/14 - 07:48 am
2
1
With luck we would have a

With luck we would have a nation wide move to vote out any incumbent and bring new blood to the Congress in every state.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11036
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 07/28/14 - 08:17 am
2
2
Maybe

If he had run on his accomplishments rather than slinging mud he may have gotten reelected. I never heard of his accomplishments during the campaign, only about Perdue from him..

sand gnat
675
Points
sand gnat 07/28/14 - 12:56 pm
0
0
sand gnat

Time will tell. We lost a good one here. Neither of the finalists will have any committee appointments that will solve or control the direction the country is headed. Be careful about what you wish for. With the trouble Gov. Deal is facing, and folks looking for fresh blood in politics, we could end up with another Carter as well as another Nunn. The sharks on the national scene are now smelling blood in Ga. Out of state money is headed our way from the liberals.

itsanotherday1
48264
Points
itsanotherday1 07/28/14 - 02:01 pm
1
0
Sand gnat, using that logic

Sand gnat, using that logic we should just have lifetime politicians.

tpared
4
Points
tpared 08/04/14 - 03:31 pm
0
0
Good By Jack

Anyone that would stoop so low as to produce a campaign ad that has the President calling Jack and telling him to leave David alone needs to be fired. Isn't that false advertising? Can you really trust someone that does that. His ad was totally wrong. If he would lie about that, what else does or would he lie about? Glad he is gone. And don't come back. Change is good! One down and many more to go!

tpared
4
Points
tpared 08/04/14 - 03:31 pm
0
0
Good By Jack

Anyone that would stoop so low as to produce a campaign ad that has the President calling Jack and telling him to leave David alone needs to be fired. Isn't that false advertising? Can you really trust someone that does that. His ad was totally wrong. If he would lie about that, what else does or would he lie about? Glad he is gone. And don't come back. Change is good! One down and many more to go!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Ex-superintendent to write of miraculous recovery

Taking his doctor's advice, former Richmond County school superintendent Frank Roberson has nearly finished writing a 150-page book about his remarkable recovery from brain trauma.
Search Augusta jobs