Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), narrowly defeated by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) in a January runoff election, is going to challenge incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R) next year, Politico and other media organizations reported Sunday. Perdue spent Sunday calling Republicans about his plans and will announce his bid Monday, The Washington Post reports. The primary campaign is expected to be of the scorched earth variety, and the winner will likely face Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Civil War Union Gen. William T. Sherman "left more standing than this primary will," veteran GOP strategist Brian Robinson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Perdue has been quietly laying the groundwork to challenge Kemp for months, since deciding not to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), the Journal-Constitution reports, and Kemp has been preparing for the challenge. The sniping, which began last week, kicked up a notch Sunday.
"Perdue's only reason for running is to soothe his own bruised ego, because his campaign for U.S. senate failed to inspire voters at the ballot box — twice," Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a long statement that also mocked Perdue as being "best known for ducking debates, padding his stock portfolio during a pandemic, and losing winnable races."
Perdue apparently plans to question Kemp's electability. The former senator "told me he likes Brian personally but doesn't believe Brian can win and doesn't want to see Stacey Abrams as the governor of Georgia," one Georgia Republican told the Post. He is also expected to quickly get an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who openly urged Perdue to challenge Kemp during a Georgia rally in September. "If Brian Kemp fought Stacey Abrams as hard as he fights Perdue and Trump, we wouldn't be in this mess," a Perdue spokesman said Sunday.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, a top aide to Abrams, welcomed the battle. "While David Perdue and Brian Kemp fight each other," she said, "Stacey Abrams will be fighting for the people of Georgia."
Trump's endorsement is expected to put some wind in Perdue's sails, but "Kemp will be a formidable primary opponent, despite his falling out with Trump over his refusal to overturn the November election," Greg Bluestein reports in the Journal-Constitution. "The governor has the power of incumbency and dozens of endorsements already lined up," and "legislation he recently signed allows him to set up funds that can collect unlimited contributions from donors for a 2022 bid."