updated at 8:00 am ET Wednesday
(CNN) - Businessman David Perdue won Tuesday's Republican Senate primary runoff in Georgia, narrowly edging out Rep. Jack Kingston.
Kingston told supporters Tuesday night that he called Perdue to concede and to congratulate his opponent on "a victory well fought."
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Perdue, a former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, ran as a political outsider against Kingston, an 11-term congressman who represents coastal Georgia. Perdue will now face off in the general election against Democrat Michelle Nunn in the battle to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Democrats see Georgia as one of only two states where they hope to play offense in this year's battle for control of the Senate.
"Georgia Republicans have spoken," said Perdue in his victory speech.
"They're concerned about the mess in Washington like you and I are, and I believe they're looking for an alternative," said Perdue.
In his concession speech, Kingston vowed to help Perdue in the general election.
"Once we combine our two camps, we will absolutely be unstoppable. We will win in November. We will keep Georgia in the Republican column," Kingston said.
Perdue and Kingston finished first and second in a seven candidate field in the May 20 GOP primary, beating out a bunch of more conservative candidates.
The campaign leading up to Tuesday's runoff became increasingly ugly, and personal, as the two candidates and their allies sharpened their attacks. In their one and only televised debate during the two month long runoff campaign, Perdue repeatedly blasted Kingston as part of the problem in Washington.
"This is a problem when you have an out of touch Congress, led by a career politician whose first priority is to get re-elected. This is a travesty," said Perdue, adding that "right now we are spending a third of what we should be spending as a country on all of our infrastructure. And because of that we're becoming less and less competitive around the world. On this congressman's watch over the last 22 years, we have lost our competitive edge against many parts of the world. And it's time to change that."
Kingston touted his commitment to his constituents in his coastal Georgia district and fired back at Perdue.
"Let me talk to you about being out of touch. I've come home every single weekend. I've had open mic town meetings. I work with people who disagree with me. David, your whole lifestyle is based in a different way. Now you have done well for yourself. But you live in a gated community, inside a gated community and have a gate at your house. How are you going to work with John Q. Public when they come up to you and have questions? I think being part of a public servant is being public and being a servant. Knowing who you're working for and being accessible to them is extremely important," Kingston said.
Perdue poured more than $3 million of his own money into his campaign. That helped him keep pace with Kingston, who began the race with a large war chest and dominated fundraising. Kingston also had the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which ran multiple ads backing the congressman.
'Amnesty' an issue
In his final television commercial, Perdue slammed both Kingston and the Chamber of Commerce over the hot-button issue of illegal immigration.
"Jack Kingston's pro-amnesty vote is bought and paid for. Kingston's largest backer who has pumped almost $3 million into Kingston TV ads is 100% openly pro-amnesty. Kingston now owes them big. Career politician Jack Kingston: backed by amnesty supporters. Wrong for Georgia. David Perdue never supported amnesty, and never will. Never," said the narrator in the Perdue spot.
The Chamber of Commerce supported the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year. That measure has floundered in the House, and Kingston has repeatedly said he would not vote for it.
The Chamber of Commerce quickly responded, saying Perdue's commercial was "his latest sign of desperation." And the Chamber went up with a last minute web ad on the eve of the runoff.
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce stands up for American enterprise. We fight for jobs. So why is David Perdue attacking us? Well, he sought our endorsement several times but didn't get it. Now, losing and desperate, David is crying like a little baby," said the narrator in the spot.
Meanwhile, Kingston - who opposed the massive federal stimulus package backed by Barack Obama early in his presidency to help jumpstart the economy after the 2008 recession - attacked Perdue for taking stimulus money for his company.
No tea party candidate
Perdue and Kingston beat out three more conservative candidates in the primary: Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. But while the runoff campaign lacked a tea party vs. mainstream GOP story line, it took on an insider vs. outsider theme, as most of the Georgia Republican establishment backed Kingston.
"The primary was complicated with multiple members of Congress and two people who had no Washington experience. The runoff devolved into a more classic, clear and competitive fight between a congressman and a businessman," Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, told CNN.
"Kingston had a voting record to be picked apart but Perdue had enough statements for Kingston to shoot at. The GOP nomination is very valuable in a state where Republicans should start with the advantage, so it's no surprise that the runoff become very bitter," Gonzales added.
The race also included some high profile surrogates. Perdue's first cousin, former two-term Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue, appeared in Perdue commercials in the campaign's final week. And 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, voiced his support for Perdue in some radio spots.
Meanwhile football legend Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy while leading the University of Georgia Bulldogs, was the star of a Chamber of Commerce ad backing Kingston, a fellow UGA graduate.
Nunn easily won the May Democratic primary, as she tries to follow in the footsteps of her father, former longtime Sen. Sam Nunn.
Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.
Democrats see Georgia and Kentucky as the only two states where they hope to go on offensive in the battle for the Senate.
"Ahead of tonight's results in Georgia, it's clear that the long, expensive, and divisive runoff has pushed both Congressman Jack Kingston and David Perdue further right and exposed vulnerabilities that will lead to their defeat in the fall. As the Republicans have wasted time and resources battling it out, Michelle Nunn has built significant financial and organizational advantages that put her in the driver's seat heading into the general," wrote the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, the Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative outside group that's been very critical of the federal health care law, went up with a new TV commercial that attacks Nunn for supporting Obamacare and higher taxes.