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In tight Georgia Senate race, voters weigh ideology and compromise with Perdue, Nunn

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MCDONOUGH, Georgia — Democrat Michelle Nunn of Georgia has made her willingness to work with Republicans a central theme as she campaigns across the state for a key seat in the fight for control of the Senate.

But is compromise what voters really want, and do they think it's even possible?

Nunn's opponent, Republican David Perdue, has argued voters don't support what he calls the "failed agenda" of President Barack Obama and has advocated for repealing and replacing the federal health care law. He also opposed a bipartisan immigration reform bill. And he's getting support from the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a major figure in last year's government shutdown, who's joining Perdue on the campaign trail Saturday.

"It's one thing to idealize everything and talk about it. It's another thing to actually get something done," said Perdue, adding he'd be willing to work with Democrats on issues like tax reform but has little hope they want anything to do with Republican ideas.

Recent polls show Perdue and Nunn locked in a close race that could be headed to a runoff if neither gets more than 50 percent of the vote.

At a rally Friday for Perdue, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the crowd it was important to be "unafraid to do what is right." During his remarks, Paul blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for partisan gridlock and argued Georgia voters must elect Perdue so Republicans can control the Senate and fix the nation's problems.

"Until we take over the majority, we will never get a chance to fix the tax code," Paul said. "If you have 49 Republicans, you get zero percent of the agenda. You get to 51 Republicans, and you get 100 percent of the agenda."

Gene Yancey, a pastor from Milner, was among those at the rally and said he just didn't believe Nunn was credible when speaking about building consensus.

PHOTO: FILE - This Oct. 7, 2014, file photo shows Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michelle Nunn and Republican candidate David Perdue talking after their debate in Perry, Ga. In an arena usually reserved for rodeos and livestock shows, Nunn told the boisterous crowd she was "glad to be home." Purdue stood on the same debate stage and bellowed: "Welcome to Perdue country." Neither candidate lives near the fairgrounds, much less among cattle or row crops. But both candidates have made a concerted play for rural and small-town voters. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
FILE - This Oct. 7, 2014, file photo shows Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michelle Nunn and Republican candidate David Perdue talking after their debate in Perry, Ga. In an arena usually reserved for rodeos and livestock shows, Nunn told the boisterous crowd she was "glad to be home." Purdue stood on the same debate stage and bellowed: "Welcome to Perdue country." Neither candidate lives near the fairgrounds, much less among cattle or row crops. But both candidates have made a concerted play for rural and small-town voters. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

"It's just a lie because she doesn't have any say-so in what she's going to do," Yancey said. "She may be naïve enough to believe she could compromise, but she's incapable of compromising because the Democrats won't let her."

Nunn has dismissed those claims and vowed to be independent. She has cited her father, former Sen. Sam Nunn, as an example.

"In my father's time, which wasn't so long ago, people worked across the aisle and they got things done," Nunn said Friday. "No matter who controls the Senate after this election, what will matter is have we sent enough people, Republicans and Democrats, who pledge to get things done and work together."

Nunn's father, a moderate who represented Georgia for years, said in an interview this week that he never passed a significant piece of legislation over 24 years without a Republican partner.

"We didn't agree on everything, but people elect you to go to Washington and try to make the country better," he said. "And that means neither political party is going to solve these problems by themselves."

Early Friday, Michelle Nunn held a roundtable with a dozen supporters to highlight Perdue's support of the government shutdown and the impact it had on Georgia. Richard Kellogg, who recently retired after 32 years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was among those who attended and said the shutdown prevented the federal agency, in part, from delivering on time a key test for Ebola.

"I was in emergency response preparedness, which has a lot to do with protecting the health and welfare of this country, and we saw a lot of things not getting done," Kellogg said, adding he was disappointed with Republicans. "I wish I could see their willingness to compromise and get around this gridlock."


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