Republican former US Sen. David Perdue announced Monday he will run for Georgia governor, setting up a bitter primary battle against incumbent Brian Kemp.
“To fight back, we simply have to be united,” Perdue said in a video announcing his campaign. “Look, I like Brian. This isn’t personal. It’s simple: He has failed all of us and cannot win in November.”
Perdue added that he was entering the race to “make sure [Democrat] Stacey Abrams is never the governor of Georgia.”
“Make no mistake, Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to transform Georgia into her radical vision of a state that would look more like California or New York,” he said, later adding: “Over my dead body will we ever give Stacey Abrams control of our elections again.”
Abrams, who lost to Kemp in the 2018 gubernatorial race but has refused to concede defeat, announced last week that she would run for governor a second time.
While Kemp once enjoyed near-unanimous Republican support in the Peach State, he has fallen out of favor with former President Donald Trump by refusing to countenance the latter’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
In a statement Monday, Trump called Perdue “a great Senator” who “truly loves his State and his Country” while dismissing Kemp as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only.
“This will be very interesting, and I can’t imagine that Brian Kemp, who has hurt election integrity in Georgia so badly, can do well at the ballot box (unless the election is rigged, of course),” Trump added. “He cost us two Senate seats and a Presidential victory in the Great State of Georgia.”
In September, Trump suggested Abrams would have been doing a better job as governor than Kemp — whom he referred to as a “disaster” — had she been elected.
“Stacey — would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me,” Trump said of Kemp during a rally at the Georgia State Fairgrounds.
“We don’t want her!” someone in the crowd yelled.
Trump later took another dig at Kemp, saying, “Of course, having her [Abrams], I think, might be better than having your existing governor, if you want to know the truth. Might very well be better.”
Perdue served one term in the Senate before he was defeated by Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff election earlier this year. He initially filed paperwork in February to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) — who edged out GOP incumbent Kelly Loeffler in a special election — in 2022, but reversed that decision days later.
In his announcement, Perdue blamed Kemp for Trump’s 2020 loss as well as his and Loeffler’s defeats months later, with a spokesperson pointing to a settlement agreement that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the State Election Board made with the state Democratic Party in March 2020 in which the state agreed to set uniform standards for examining signatures on mail-in absentee ballots. Kemp was not a party to the lawsuit.
“Think about how different it would be if Kemp had fought Abrams first before the election instead of fighting Trump,” Perdue said. “Kemp caved before the election and the country is paying the price today.”
Kemp spokesperson Cody Hall blasted Perdue in a statement, accusing him of running only to “soothe his own bruised ego” over losing his Senate seat.
“The man who lost Republicans the United States Senate and brought the last year of skyrocketing inflation, open borders, runaway government spending, and woke cancel culture upon the American people now wants to lose the Georgia governor’s office to the national face of the radical left movement,” Hall said.
With Post wires