Earlier this week, I offered a short report on the upcoming Georgia Republican primary, now that former one-term Sen. David Perdue has decided to shake things up by challenging incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. Let’s dig deeper into this potential Republican civil war in a crucial swing state.
Georgians voted for the GOP candidate in every presidential election from 1996-2016 and each gubernatorial election from 2002-18; Republicans controlled the state assembly in every election since 2004, and two Republican senators represented Georgia the last two decades until everything came crashing down in the past year.
Joe Biden won the Peach State by over 10,000 votes in November — after recounts and audits — and in the vital January U.S. Senate runoffs, Democrat Jon Ossoff beat Perdue by 55,000 votes, while Democrat Raphael Warnock beat interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler by nearly 100,000 votes.
One of the reasons left-wing politicians like Ossoff and Warnock won in a purple state was that many white, rural voters who voted in the fall decided to stay home Jan. 5 because Donald Trump spent two months insisting the election results were rigged.
I drove 3,300 miles round trip in depth of winter to cover it, and everyone I spoke to confirmed their (unnecessary) skepticism.
More than 750,000 Georgia voters who cast ballots in the presidential election didn’t show up again for the runoffs just two months later.
Over half were white, and many lived in northwest and south Georgia locales that lean toward Republicans. Yes, Trump held rallies at those locations, but at those rallies, he reiterated his criticism of Georgia’s elections, with unsubstantiated fraud allegations.
Meanwhile, 228,000 new voters cast ballots in the runoffs who did not vote Nov. 3. They were more racially diverse and younger types, who usually back Democrats.
The Georgia runoff was the most important Senate election of our lifetimes; the sad results are why Chuck Schumer is Senate majority leader instead of Mitch McConnell. It’s why ineffectual, unqualified Kamala Harris can cast tie-breaking votes on key legislation.
Had Republicans won either seat, no one would care if Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema eventually support Biden’s latest multi-trillion-dollar social welfare legislation.
Now, at Trump’s insistence, Perdue is in the race.
The former president is transactional, abhors Kemp, and doesn’t seem to care about dividing the party. Trump doesn’t dislike Kemp because he’s a bad governor or not conservative, but because Trump’s fragile ego is still seething 13 months over the fact that Kemp refused to overturn election results.
“Every time I hear Perdue say ‘it’s not personal,’ I want to scream,” PJ Media editor Chris Queen said Tuesday. “It’s not personal for you, David, but it’s personal for Trump and you’re fighting his battles.”
Calling for unity while launching a primary challenge, and blaming the guy he’s challenging for losing a race he himself lost. Remarkable. https://t.co/tngF5RGv6E
— Reid Wilson (@PoliticsReid) December 6, 2021
At a September rally in Georgia, Trump even endorsed socialist Stacey Abrams while decrying Kemp.
Georgia Republicans do not need a grueling gubernatorial primary. They could unite behind the relatively popular Kemp, who signed a strong election-reform bill into law despite demonization by Democrats and media. Or they can unite around the 71-year-old Perdue, who gave Democrats the Senate by losing to an unaccomplished 33-year-old novice.
If the party does not unify behind the primary winner, Stacey Abrams could be Georgia’s next governor and instantly become a top progressive star, likely on a national ticket in 2024 or 2028.
“Perdue’s entire campaign will be about Trump’s grievance over 2020 and his sales pitch will be that Kemp should have called a special election to overturn the lawful results of Georgia’s election — which, had Kemp done, would have still not stopped Biden in the Electoral College,” conservative Atlanta talk radio host Erick Erickson explained. “David Perdue is a fine man. But he hates the grind of campaigning and it showed this last time. He’s not good on a debate stage and it showed last time. Instead of being his own man, he’ll just be a tool through which Trump nurses a grudge.”
Even pro-Trump newspapers like the Washington Examiner are miffed at how the former president continues to help Democrats.