Only College Graduates Can Run for the Senate, Georgia Republican Says

David Perdue belittles an opponent’s, and a majority of Georgians’, high school diplomas in trying to tout his experience.

National Journal
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Matt Vasilogambros
April 3, 2014, 6:35 a.m.

Here’s an­oth­er piece of ad­vice to Sen­ate can­did­ates: Don’t be­little your op­pon­ent for her edu­ca­tion level be­fore check­ing your state’s fig­ures first.

That’s the mis­take that Geor­gia Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate front-run­ner Dav­id Per­due made in a video re­leased this week. In an at­tempt to dis­tin­guish his qual­i­fic­a­tions from those of his op­pon­ent, former state Sec­ret­ary of State Kar­en Han­del, he took a shot at her lack of high­er edu­ca­tion.

“There’s a high school gradu­ate in this race, OK?” he said at one of his cam­paign headquar­ters. “I’m sorry, but these is­sues are so much broad­er, so com­plex.”

Per­due, the former CEO of Dol­lar Gen­er­al, has a bach­el­or’s and a mas­ter’s de­gree from Geor­gia Tech.

The prob­lem here for Per­due, however, is two­fold. First, he dis­counts Han­del’s back­story. She left an ab­us­ive home at 17 and fin­ished high school while hold­ing a job. After work­ing her way up in her job and in Re­pub­lic­an polit­ics, she nev­er fin­ished col­lege. Second, her edu­ca­tion level matches that of many Geor­gi­ans.

Ac­cord­ing to census stat­ist­ics, only 27.8 per­cent of Geor­gi­ans over age 25 hold a bach­el­or’s de­gree or high­er, while 84.4 per­cent have a high school dip­loma. For the 72.2 per­cent of Geor­gi­ans without that col­lege de­gree, Per­due’s boast may tell them they’re not smart enough for high­er of­fice.

And as The At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion points out, neither Geor­gia Lt. Gov. Ca­sey Cagle nor Rep. Lynn West­mo­re­land has a col­lege de­gree.

The Per­due cam­paign at­temp­ted to de­fend the video, telling The At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion, “Dav­id was simply mak­ing the case that he is the most qual­i­fied per­son in this race to help get our eco­nomy back on track,” and con­tinu­ing, “His com­ment was based on facts that are a mat­ter of pub­lic re­cord.”

Cur­rent polls show Per­due lead­ing the sev­en-per­son GOP field that also in­cludes Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gin­grey, and Jack King­ston, but the race re­mains re­l­at­ively tight. The Re­pub­lic­an primary is set for May 20.

Per­due ob­vi­ously tuned out of the news two weeks ago when Rep. Bruce Bra­ley de­rided the cre­den­tials and humble up­bring­ing of an­oth­er politi­cian.


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