ATLANTA (AP) -- Three Democratic Senate candidates blasted Michelle Nunn for skipping a televised debate ahead of the upcoming primary, and they accused the front-runner of not standing up for Democratic Party values as she goes after conservative Georgia voters.
Nunn is the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday's primary outright over former state Sen. Steen Miles of DeKalb County; Atlanta psychiatrist Branko Radulovacki; and Todd Robinson, who works for the Columbus Fire and EMS Department.
All three lesser-known candidates pleaded for voters not to make Tuesday's primary vote a coronation.
"Don't let the money win," Miles said in WSB-TV's Atlanta studios, where an empty podium made Nunn's absence conspicuous.
Miles, Radulovacki and Robinson also pledged that any budget fix in Washington shouldn't include steep cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid and instead be anchored by a tax overhaul that focuses on eliminating tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals.
Nunn has avoided specifics, but she calls repeatedly for eliminating the nation's annual budget deficit and chipping away at the accumulated $17 trillion debt.
Radulovacki also said Nunn has offered only tepid support for the Affordable Care Act and criticized the law's requirement that individuals have health insurance coverage. Eliminating the requirement, he said, "would undermine the entire law" by reducing the revenue needed to finance the new premium subsidies for individuals who buy private policies through online exchanges.
Meanwhile, all of the Democrats, including Nunn, have called for expanding the Medicaid insurance program to cover individuals who don't make enough money to qualify for policies on the exchanges. Georgia Republicans have refused, echoing the national GOP position that the entire Affordable Care Act should be repealed.
The Democratic Senate nominee will face one of seven Republicans who want to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The GOP primary is almost certain to yield a July 22 runoff between the top two vote-getters Tuesday.
Registered Georgia voters can vote in either major party primary, but not both.
National Democrats view Nunn as one of their best candidates to pick up a Republican-held seat. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to regain a Senate majority for the final two years of President Barack Obama's term, and the party can ill afford to lose Georgia in that quest.
Hoping to win over independents and some conservatives, Nunn campaigns as a moderate, mostly avoiding policy specifics but calling for compromise and geniality that is lacking in a gridlocked Congress. She started her bid with the benefit of name recognition as the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, and she's raised millions of dollars to dwarf the shoestring campaigns of her primary opponents.
Nunn was elsewhere in Atlanta on Saturday, working alongside volunteers improving the playground and other facilities at Perkerson Elementary School. "She's making a difference today," said her spokesman, Nathan Click, when asked why she declined WSB-TV's invitation.
A one-hour forum featuring the Republicans candidates will be broadcast Sunday at 11 a.m.
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)