The decision by a cousin and business partner of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue had been expected after he announced in May that he was forming an exploratory committee. Still, Perdue is expected to shake up the race given his personal wealth, experience in the private sector and political connections.
The former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok made the announcement in a video posted on his campaign website in which he pointed to the nation's debt and high unemployment.
"Our federal government is simply out of control," Perdue said. "In the void of true leadership, unelected bureaucrats, out-of-touch regulators and special interest cronies are gaining unprecedented power."
Perdue moved quickly to position himself as an outsider in a race that includes three U.S. congressmen — Reps. Paul Broun of Athens, Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah. It had been a spot being claimed by former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who is also running. It appears Perdue plans to mirror her message with an emphasis on his business credentials.
"The career politicians have created this mess and we just can't expect them to clean it up," Perdue said in the video. "If we want different results in Washington, we just have to send a different kind of person to Washington."
Perdue, 63, said he has spent his career creating jobs. He also served as senior vice president of Asia operations for Sara Lee, establishing the company's first headquarters in Asia. At Dollar General, Perdue said he oversaw the company's expansion to 8,500 stores nationwide.
Perdue, who is married with two sons, was appointed to the board of the Georgia Ports Authority by his cousin in a move that was legal but prompted some criticism. Later, after the governor left office in 2010, the two founded an Atlanta-based global trading company, Perdue Partners LLC.
Earlier this week, Michelle Nunn became the first high-profile Democrat to enter the race and will also be touting her private sector experience as CEO of Points of Light, one of the nation's largest volunteer organizations founded by former President George H.W. Bush. Nunn, 47, is the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, a moderate Democrat who represented Georgia for 24 years.
The race in Georgia has quickly become one of the most closely watched in the country as Republicans push to win control of the Senate. While Republicans have the advantage in Georgia, Democrats are hoping Nunn can make inroads in a state they once dominated and where changing demographics present an opportunity.
Either way, the race is expected to draw interest and money from around the country.
A big question will be whether Perdue plans to contribute his own money to help finance his campaign. So far, Kingston and Gingrey have been demonstrating a strong ability to raise money and were able to transfer money from their House campaign accounts that have been steadily growing in recent years as the congressmen have faced little opposition. Each has reported having about $2.5 million in cash.
Broun, meanwhile, has $400,000 and Handel reported raising about $154,000 in the six weeks since she announced her campaign.
Earlier Wednesday, the Nunn campaign said it had raised $79,000 from online donors in the 24 hours since Nunn announced. The Handel campaign was also busy, launching a "Donate to Defeat Nunn" page on her website and emailing supporters a photo of President Barack Obama with his arm around Nunn.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.