Nonprofit Executive Nunn Loses Georgia Senate Race

November 5, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Michelle Nunn, on leave as chief executive officer of the national service organization Points of Light to run for the U.S. Senate, was beaten in her attempt to represent the people of Georgia.

In a race watched with hope by nonprofit leaders, Nunn lost to David Perdue, a former CEO at public companies, 53 percent to 45.1 percent. Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford garnered just 1.9 percent, not enough to make a difference in the outcome. They were vying for the seat of retiring GOP senator Saxby Chambliss.

Perdue was a relative newcomer to Georgia politics while Nunn is the daughter of former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn. Polls showed a nearly dead heat going into election day. But Perdue pulled away, garnering more than the 50-percent plus one vote needed to avoid a run-off election.

Asked whether Nunn will return to Points of Light, the organization briefly answered via email: “Michelle Nunn remains on a board-approved leave of absence. Our current management team continues to lead Points of Light’s global efforts to inspire, equip and mobilize volunteers to make a difference in the lives of others through service.”

The organization is being run by Tracy Hoover, the organization’s long-time chief operating officer and chief of staff. She was appointed president when Nunn’s leave of absence was announced in July 2013. Hoover had been with Hands On Atlanta, which grew into a national organization for volunteer engagement behind Nunn and Hoover. The organizations were merged in 2007.

Points of Light was squarely in the middle of the election fight. The organization was started by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, and is still chaired by his son Neil. Nunn used photos of herself and the former president during the campaign. Use of the picture brought a strong rebuke from Bush.

A spokesman for the former president released a statement: “Michelle and her team have been clearly, repeatedly and consistently told that President Bush did not want them to use his photo as part of this campaign. Apparently, the Nunn team feels they can repeatedly disregard the former president’s wishes, which is very disappointing because it’s so disrespectful.”

In her concession speech, Nunn urged her supporters to work with Perdue and commended both of her opponents for “commitment to service, commitment to public service.”