ATLANTA — Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue will challenge Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for governor in the 2022 Republican primary, setting off a heated conflict, multiple news outlets reported on Sunday. Democrat Stacey Abrams is likely to await the winner.
Perdue’s plans were first confirmed by Politico on Sunday. He has been publicly encouraged by former President Donald Trump and has been flirting with running for governor for months. Supporters of the 71-year-old former senator, who lost his seat to Democrat John Osoff in a runoff in January, say they believe Perdue can beat Abrams while Kemp cannot.
“Perdue could bring together the Trump base and those Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats who would find Abrams too radical,” former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote on November 12. “Perdue is a candidate who can beat Abrams.”
But Kemp is promising an all-out controversy as he tries to win a second term, with Kemp spokesman Cody Hall saying Perdue is only running on his loss to Osoff to “soothe his own bruised ego”. Is.
“The man who lost the United States Senate to Republicans and brought a final year of skyrocketing inflation, open borders, runaway government spending, and repealing culture on the American people, now holds the office of the governor of Georgia, the national face of the radical left movement. wants to lose from,” Hall said.
As recently as June, Perdue was backing Kemp, presenting him at the state Republican Party convention. Kemp said Thursday that he hoped Perdue was “a man of his word” when it came to that endorsement.
Perdue’s entry could also pull Kemp to the right as he vies for primary support. Kemp had hoped to use Abrams’ Wednesday entry in the gubernatorial race to rally Republicans in his favor, but Trump then issued a statement claiming that his strongest supporters would never vote for Kemp. . Trump has repeatedly hit out at Kemp, saying Kemp had not done enough to reverse President Joe Biden’s election victory in Georgia.
“After what they did with regard to electoral integrity and two badly run elections, the president and then the two Senate seats, the MAGA base will not vote for him,” Trump said. “But some good Republicans will run, and some good Republicans will get my support, and some good Republicans will win!”
Trump’s Political Action Committee previously launched a poll that showed Perdue could defeat Kemp in the Republican primary if Trump backed Perdue. Ex-President added fuel to that fire At a September 25 rally in Perry, Georgia, when he pointed to Purdue among a group of Republican Party leaders.
“Are you running for governor, David?” Trump asked. “Did I hear he’s running?”
Born in Macon, Perdue was a business consultant and then an executive at companies that moved clothing production to Asia. He became CEO of Reebok, textile firm Pilotex, and discount retailer Dollar General. Former governor and cousin of US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, David Perdue was elected to the Senate in 2014 by defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn.
Aside from Trump’s displeasure with Kemp, it’s unclear what Perdue’s platform will be. in an interview last month Gainesville Radio Station WDUN-AM, he talked about education as a potential issue, and compared the Trump economy to Biden’s “frenzy spending.” But he spoke about hard feelings over Trump’s electoral loss, saying Biden won a “dubious election.”
“We have a divided party in Georgia right now. Forget about me, it’s divided,” Perdue said. “And a lot of people feel like those in power haven’t fought for them, and in 2020 withdrew a lot of things that didn’t.” Had to do.”
Reports indicate that Perdue may make an announcement as early as Monday.
already have one Trump-backed candidates slate in Georgia The Republican primary, in which Herschelle Walker is running for the US Senate, State Sen. Bert Jones is running for lieutenant governor and US Representative Jody Haise is running for secretary of state.
Other Republicans are already trying to challenge Kemp, including former Democrat Vernon Jones and GOP activist Candice Taylor. Jones backed Trump and claimed on Sunday that Kemp and Purdue are “two peas in a pod.”
Abrams has no declared opponents on the Democratic side. His narrow defeat to Kemp in 2018 earned him national fame as a voting rights activist and leader of his party.
“While David Perdue and Brian Kemp fight each other, Stacey Abrams will fight for the people of Georgia,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ top aide. wrote on twitter,
Some Republicans fear a bitter Perdue-Kemp primary will set the stage for Abrams’ victory. Republican State Sen. Chuck Huffsettler of Rome wrote in a tweet that Perdue’s entry was “good news for Stacey Abrams. Bad news for Republicans.”
Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, said it was unclear whether the Kemp-Perdue primary would be “demonetizing or demoralizing the general election” for Republican voters, some staying home. The national environment is likely to be stronger for the GOP in 2022, and Gillespie said, “Republican voters are going to vote for a Republican candidate, and they will put aside whatever differences they have to support that Republican candidate.” Will keep it.”