Former GOP Sen. David Perdue plans to announce Monday that he’s mounting a primary challenge against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a move that will pit the ally of former President Donald Trump against the incumbent Republican governor and set up an intra-party fight in one of the nation’s closely watched political battlegrounds, according to multiple reports.
The expected announcement by Perdue represents a shot at a political comeback for the former one-term senator. His reelection bid was thwarted by Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff in a key runoff race in January, an embarrassing loss for Republicans, who lost the Senate after losing both Georgia seats.
CNN has previously reported that Trump recently urged Perdue to run against Kemp, who resisted the former President’s demands to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia to then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The New York Times and other outlets, following Politico, on Sunday reported Perdue’s plan to announce his candidacy.
CNN has reached out to Perdue’s advisers, who would not comment on whether Perdue would launch a 2022 gubernatorial campaign
The two Georgia Republicans’ camps have already started trading barbs.
A spokesman for Perdue said in a statement to CNN, “If Brian Kemp fought (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Stacey Abrams as hard as he fights Perdue and Trump, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
Kemp campaign spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement Sunday that “Perdue’s only reason for running is to sooth his own bruised ego, because his campaign for US Senate failed to inspire voters at the ballot box – twice.”
“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.
Kemp noted last week that Perdue had told him earlier this year he would support the governor’s reelection.
“Well look, all I know is what Senator Perdue’s told me, I hope he’ll be a man of his word, but again, that’s not anything I can control,” the governor said.
Republicans fear that a divisive primary, particularly with the involvement of Trump against the incumbent, could give the Democrats a boost in Georgia, which has emerged as a key battleground state in recent years.
Kemp also said last week that he was prepared to take on Abrams, a voting rights advocate and former top Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives who announced last week that she was running again for governor. Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial election. During that race and since, Abrams has emerged as a major fundraising draw for Democrats.
Trump’s anger at Kemp is so deep that he has at times lauded Abrams while attacking the governor. Speaking in Georgia earlier this year, Trump said of Kemp, “Stacey, would you like to take his place? It’s OK with me.”
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