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Georgia GOP Civil War: David Perdue will try to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp
Perdue launches primary fight with incumbent after Donald Trump’s encouragement
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
ATLANTA (CFP) – Former Georgia U.S. Senator David Perdue is running to unseat fellow Republican and former political ally Governor Brian Kemp in next May’s party primary, setting off what’s likely to be a contentious and divisive battle armed with an endorsement from Donald Trump.
Perdue launched his campaign in a December 6 video, in which he said Kemp can’t beat likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and blaming him, rather than Trump, for the loss of two U.S. Senate runoffs in January.
“I like Brian. This isn’t personal. It’s simple. He failed all of us and cannot win in November,” Perdue said. “If our governor was ever going to fight for us, wouldn’t ne have done it already?”
Perdue also cast the prospect of Abrams as governor in apocalyptic terms.
“Make no mistake – Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to try and transform Georgia into her radical vision of the state that would look more like California or New York,” he said. “Over my dead body will we ever give Stacey Abrams control of our elections again.”
Video of Perdue’s announcement at end of story
Perdue, 71, was elected to the Senate in 2014. He lost his seat in January when he was defeated by Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff in a runoff.
He and his politically connected family had, until Monday’s announcement, been allies of Kemp. Perdue’s cousin, former Governor Sonny Perdue, appointed Kemp as secretary of state in 2010 and helped persuade Trump to endorse Kemp during his first run for governor in 2018.
One of the key issues in the primary campaign will be who is responsible for Republicans losing both Perdue’s seat and the seat of Kelly Loeffler in the January runoffs, which came two months after Joe Biden became the first Democrat to carry Georgia in 28 years.
In his launch video, Perdue implied that the decision by Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to enter into a consent agreement with a voting rights group led by Abrams about verification of absentee ballot signatures led to the GOP’s defeat – a theory Trump has repeatedly advanced.
“Instead of protecting our elections, he caved into Abrams and cost us two Senate seats, the Senate majority, and gave Joe Biden free rein,” he said.
However, three different audits of Georgia’s 2020 election results have turned up no evidence of absentee ballot fraud. And results of the runoffs show that Perdue and Loeffler may have been done in by weak Republican turnout, after weeks of claims by Trump that state elections couldn’t be trusted.
Both Kemp and Raffensperger, who is in charge of state elections, refused to go along with attempts by Trump to overturn the state’s results, which are now the subject of a criminal investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Trump turned on both Kemp and Raffensperger after the November election and has been encouraging primary challengers to unseat both of them. He enthusiastically greeted the news of Perdue’s candidacy and offered what he termed “my Complete and Total Endorsement.”
“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 said in a statement.
There was no immediate response from Kemp to Perdue’s announcement, although the Washington Post quoted a Kemp spokesman as saying Perdue was running to “soothe his own bruised ego” after losing the Senate race.
As Kemp and Perdue battle it out on the Republican side, Abrams – who lost to Kemp by 55,000 votes in 2018 — is likely to face only token opposition in her primary, allowing her to save money for the November general election.
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Video: Republican Brian Kemp takes helm as Georgia governor
Former secretary of state won a hard-fought race over Democrat Stacey Abrams
Video from WXIA-TV via YouTube
Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue picked as Trump’s agriculture chief
Perdue advised Trump on agricultural issues during presidential campaign
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a veterinarian by training who grew up on a family farm, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the nation’s next agriculture secretary.
The selection of Perdue, announced a day before Trump’s inauguration on January 19, rounds out the new president’s cabinet.
“From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, (Perdue) has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face,” Trump said in a statement announcing Perdue’s selection. “He is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”
In the same statement, Perdue said “making sure Americans who make their livelihood in the agriculture industry are thriving is near and dear to my heart.”
“I’m going to champion the concerns of American agriculture and work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families in this new role,” he said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Purdue will oversee the sprawling U.S. Department of Agriculture, with more than 100,000 employees and a $140 billion budget. In addition to farm programs, the department also oversees food safety, national forests and the food stamp program that provides nutritional assistance to more than 40 million low-income Americans.
Perdue’s selection will present an unusual wrinkle in the Senate confirmation process, as one of the senators who will consider his nomination, U.S. Senator David Perdue, is Sonny Perdue’s first cousin.
Perdue, 70, served two terms as Georgia governor. His election in 2002 marked the first time a Republican had won the state’s chief executive post since Reconstruction, ending 130 years of Democratic dominance.
Perdue grew up on a farm in Houston County in central Georgia. During the presidential campaign, he had been a member of Trump’s agricultural advisory council.
Polls: Georgia’s races for U.S. Senate and governor appear headed for runoffs
None of the major candidates in either race is above the 50 percent threshold required for a win under the state’s unique election law
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ATLANTA (CFP) — Races for U.S. Senator and governor in Georgia appear heading for December runoffs, thanks to close races, support for third-party Libertarians and the Peach State’s unique requirement of general election runoffs if no candidate wins a majority on election day.
A runoff could leave control of the Senate hanging in the balance until January 6 if Georgia’s race is needed to decide the balance of power.
Recent polling in the Senate race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue shows both candidates neck-and-neck within the margin of error but short of 50 percent.
The Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford, a lawyer and former city councilwoman in Flowery Branch, is polling between 3 and 6 percent – enough to cause a runoff if the battle between Perdue and Nunn is close.
Likewise, in the race for governor, the Republican incumbent, Governor Nathan Deal, and his Democratic challenger, State Senator Jason Carter, are within the margin of error but below 50 percent, with Libertarian Andrew Hunt, an Atlanta technology executive, polling at about 5 percent.
Georgia is the only state in the union that has a general election runoff. The runoff for governor would be December 2, but the runoff for Senate would not happen until January 6.
Louisiana has a slightly different system in which candidates from all parties run in a primary in November, with a runoff set for December 6 if no candidate gets a majority.
The U.S. Senate race in Louisiana also appears to be heading for a runoff, with recent polls showing both incumbent U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and her GOP challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, polling in the low to mid 40s.
In the Georgia Senate race, Nunn and Perdue, both political newcomers, are seeking the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, while Perdue is a cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue.
In the governor’s race, Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, has run a surprisingly strong campaign against Deal, who is seeking a second term as the state’s chief executive after serving more than 17 years in Congress.
Deal’s prospects for re-election may have been harmed by the state’s sluggish response to a January snowstorm that paralyzed metro Atlanta.