According to AJC, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue will challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in a Republican primary on Monday, setting up a bitter GOP war for the right to face likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams next year.
The battle among the trio of political titans will draw even more attention to Georgia after game-changing elections that helped cement President Joe Biden’s victory and sealed Democratic control of the U.S. Senate.
The primary will also be a test of former President Donald Trump’s grip on the state GOP and his vow to punish Republicans he views as disloyal. Trump has vowed to oust Kemp for the governor’s refusal to reverse his defeat, and he’s certain to add Perdue to the list of Georgia Republicans he’s endorsing in 2022.
Kemp’s allies promised to “total war” and “scorched earth” fury if Perdue got in the race. The governor said it would be a shocking betrayal from a one-time ally who helped Kemp win Trump’s endorsement in 2018.
The Kemp campaign’s initial response to Perdue’s plans was a sign the saber-rattling was no idle threat. Spokesman Cody Hall channeled the GOP attacks pummeling President Joe Biden over inflation and “runaway government spending” and turned them on Perdue because he lost the Senate runoff.
(Kemp’s hand-picked candidate, Republican Kelly Loeffler, was also defeated in the same election.)
And Hall brought up a series of attacks also leveraged by Democrat Jon Ossoff in his victorious campaign, including Perdue’s stock transactions at the start of the pandemic and his no-shows at two pivotal debates in the closing weeks of the race.
Perdue’s campaign response indicated he’ll swing back just as hard. And his debut Monday is to echo the same argument for running he’s privately told allies for weeks: He fears that Kemp will inevitably fall to Abrams, and that he’s the only Republican who can prevent the slide.