Perdue mulling primary challenge against Kemp in Georgia: report

Perdue mulling primary challenge against Kemp in Georgia: report
© Aaron Schwartz

Former Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens Perdue on possible run for Georgia governor: 'I'm concerned about the state of our state' Kemp makes pitch to conservatives, independents in new campaign ad MORE (R-Ga.) is mulling a potential primary challenge to Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempAll 3 men in Arbery killing found guilty of murder Arbery jury asks to see videos, hear 911 call Arbery case goes to jury MORE (R), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, raising the possibility of a bitter intra-party brawl between two GOP heavyweights.

Speculation has swirled for months that Perdue could mount a bid for the governor’s mansion. He ruled out a 2022 campaign against Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockWarnock: 'True justice' is a Black man not having to worry about being killed while jogging Parnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Cook Political Report shifts three Senate races toward Republicans MORE (D-Ga.) in February, but has maintained a regular presence at grassroots events in Georgia and recently met with former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE, who has vowed to campaign against Kemp next year.

But according to the AJC, Perdue has gotten more serious about a campaign for governor in recent weeks, calling donors and allies to run the idea past them. 

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Perdue left Washington earlier this year after narrowly losing a January runoff election to Sen. Jon OssoffJon OssoffPerdue on possible run for Georgia governor: 'I'm concerned about the state of our state' Top Senate Democrat calls on attorney general to fire prisons chief Gingrich backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race MORE (D-Ga.). That defeat, combined with former Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSenate GOP worries Trump could derail bid for majority Perdue mulling primary challenge against Kemp in Georgia: report McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race MORE’s (R-Ga.) loss to Warnock in a separate runoff, helped hand Democrats control of the Senate. 

If Perdue ultimately decides to challenge Kemp for the GOP nomination next year, it would almost certainly set off a divisive primary that would garner intense national attention.

Once a supporter of Kemp, Trump turned on the Georgia governor late last year after Kemp refused his pleas to overturn Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election — something that Kemp did not have the legal authority to do. 

Since then, Trump has pledged to use his political influence to oust Kemp next year. While a few Republicans have already jumped into the primary against the Georgia governor, Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race. 

If Perdue runs, however, he would likely secure Trump’s endorsement. The former president sees him as an ally and even appeared to encourage him to run during a rally in Georgia in September. 

“Are you running for governor, David?” Trump asked during the rally, pointing to Perdue. “Did I hear he’s running?”

So far, no Democrat has entered the race for Georgia governor, though the party’s 2018 nominee Stacey Abrams is widely expected to do so.