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Ex-Pillowtex CEO runs for U.S. Senate seat

Former Pillowtex CEO David Perdue announced this week that he is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.

Perdue was CEO of the former Kannapolis textile giant from mid 2002 to March 2003. Pillowtex abruptly closed in July 2003, laying off 7,650 people nationwide, including more than 4,000 in Cabarrus and Rowan counties — part of the largest single job loss in the history of North Carolina and the textile industry.

After its collapse, company leaders and politicians were quick to blame pressure from low-cost imports for its demise. But Perdue and three other men who ran the company in its final years made critical miscalculations and missed opportunities to combat the growing import problem, an Observer investigation found

Soon after leaving Pillowtex, Perdue was named CEO of Dollar General; he retired from there in 2007.

Perdue, the cousin of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, joins a crowded GOP primary field with at least six other candidates looking to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Roll Call called the race the most unpredictable senate primary of 2014.

Perdue, also a former CEO of the Reebok brand, highlighted his business background in a video announcing his candidacy. His campaign website’s official biography does not mention his time at Pillowtex.

Bell: 704-358-5696; on Twitter: @abell
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