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Former GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who had not expressed an interest in running for his old seat, is now set to announce he will primary the Peach State’s current Republican governor, Brian Kemp, next spring.
And what’s more, Perdue already has a party heavyweight in his corner: Former President Donald Trump.
Politico reported Sunday:
Former Sen. David Perdue plans to announce he’ll challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, setting up an epic Republican Party primary clash in one of the nation’s top battleground states.
Perdue, who was recruited to run against the governor by former President Donald Trump, intends to make his announcement Monday via video and file his paperwork at the same time, according to sources briefed on the plans.
The former senator has discussed getting additional fundraising and endorsement support from Trump and that it will be forthcoming, the sources said.
The looming Republican primary opens a new front in the Georgia GOP’s civil war, which traces back to Trump’s loss in Georgia in November.
Trump has had a thing for Georgia since he came to the conclusion that neither Kemp, whom he backed in 2018, or the Georgia Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, did enough to try and overturn what he saw as bogus election results following the November 2020 election which saw Joe Biden win the state — the first Democrat to carry Georgia in decades.
But some analysts believe that the internal GOP war likely contributed to the loss of both of the state’s Republican U.S. senators — Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat by Kemp.
“Adding to the high stakes: The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who announced last week that she’ll challenge Kemp, to whom she narrowly lost in 2018,” Politico reported. “A campaign featuring Abrams and Perdue would place Abrams’ signature issue — voting rights — as well as Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud at center stage.”
Last week, Kemp told reporters that Perdue had informed him that he was not planning to challenge the incumbent governor next year.
“All I know is what Sen. Perdue has told me, I hope he’ll be a man of his word, but again that’s not anything I can control,” Kemp said.
But one GOP official who has also advised Perdue to challenge Kemp recounted recently polling from the former president’s Save America PAC showing that a Trump endorsement puts Perdue in a commanding position over the first-term governor.
“Trump’s endorsement matters to Republican voters and he’s going to be helpful because this race is important to him,” the adviser said, adding that the former senator wants Trump to support him via his PAC, his email list, or via a fundraiser at the 45th president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.
An adviser to Kemp who was not authorized to speak on the record wondered why Perdue would jump in, given that Trump’s endorsement would only go so far and that Georgia is doing well under the current administration.
“The economy is roaring in Georgia. Jobs are great. Taxes are low,” the Kemp adviser told Politico. “So what’s Perdue’s reason to run? That he’s Trump’s lapdog? That dog don’t hunt. Lapdogs don’t hunt.”
“We’ve never been in a situation where our incumbent governors have faced primaries. Even at the height of the tea party primaries, where the House and Senate guys were being primaried, governors really never had that experience because you only run for reelection one time,” said a Republican Governor’s Association strategist, who asked for anonymity.
“Obviously, we’ve got different situations this year. And so we’re going to be — where appropriate, where necessary — financially supporting our incumbent governors in the primaries. That’s something we’re new to,” the strategist added.