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Kingston expected to enter Ga. Senate race Thursday

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Georgia Rep. Jack KingstonRepublican Rep. Jack Kingston is expected to formally launch his campaign for U.S. Senate at a pair of news conferences Thursday in south Georgia and immediately turn his focus to raising money.

A Kingston aide confirmed Tuesday the congressman had scheduled events in his coastal House district, but remained tight-lipped on the nature of the announcement.

Still, little doubt remains among Georgia Republican eminences–the congressman’s son, Jim, has been canvassing county and district GOP chairman for support for weeks now–that Kingston will pursue the nomination.

On Thursday, however, whatever doubts remain should be put to rest: Kingston, per a spokesman, “will be doing a number of press conferences around the state, beginning Thursday in Savannah.”

The congressman’s schedule also includes a high dollar fundraiser for Friday evening in Savannah, according to an invitation sent to donors earlier this month.

The event, billed as “kickoff reception,” lists former Georgia state senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson as a co-host, along with a stable of other notable GOP donors, and an accompanying appeal from the would-be candidate makes note of the steep finances need to wage a successful statewide effort.

“It has been especially important over the past several weeks as Libby, our family, and I have carefully considered a bid for the Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss,” Kingston wrote in a letter this week to supporters.

“To wage an aggressive and successful campaign, we will need to build a war chest of $5 million before we enter the general election,” he said. “The Atlanta media market is one of the most expensive in our region and we will need to make a strong showing in order to push ourselves across the finish line.”

Anchored by Savannah and Valdosta, Kingston’s recently-redrawn southeast district is on the opposite end of the state from Atlanta, and an advertising buy in the costly capital market could mean only one thing for the coastal lawmaker: a statewide run.

Kingston has not yet filed a statement of candidacy with federal authorities, though the invitation for the May 3 event lists “Friends of Jack Kingston,” the congressman’s existing House campaign vehicle, as the beneficiary.

Should he pull the trigger Thursday as expected, Kingston would transfer the total sum of his House account, which reported having stockpiled just shy of $1 million as of the end of the first quarter, to a Senate war chest.

He will face at least two fellow Georgia House Republicans, Reps. Phil Gingrey of and Paul Broun, both representing districts in or near Atlanta, in the primary.

- James Richardson

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