- The Washington Times
Monday, December 6, 2021

Former President Donald Trump‘s clout is going to be tested in the 2022 primary election cycle, but nowhere is that more true than in Georgia, where he has convinced former Sen. David Perdue to launch a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Mr. Kemp has had a target on his back since he refused to give in to Mr. Trump‘s demand that he block President Biden’s victory in the state in the 2020 election.

Mr. Perdue, in his announcement video, offered himself up as a Trump-backed alternative, arguing he is the party’s best bet to come together to stop Democrat Stacey Abrams, and casting Mr. Kemp as soft on election integrity.

“Make no mistake, Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to transform Georgia into her radical vision of a state that would look more like California or New York,” Mr. Perdue said. “To fight back, we simply have to be united.”

“Unfortunately today we are divided and Brian Kemp and [Secretary of State] Brad Raffensperger are to blame,” he said. “This isn’t personal. It’s simple: He has failed all of us and cannot win in November.”

Jay Williams, a Georgia-based GOP strategist, said “World War III is about to break out” in the state’s Republican Party.

“It is going to be a bloodbath,” Mr. William said. “I don’t know if scorched earth describes it as well as it could be described. I don’t know who gets out of this alive and whoever does it will take them a while to recover.”

Mr. Trump insists Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger, both Republicans, could have done more to uncover voter fraud and corruption and stop Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger maintain that Mr. Trump was defeated fair and square.

Mr. Trump‘s stolen-election allegations have been credited with helping to depress Republican turnout in Georgia’s runoff races in January. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock emerged victorious in those races, defeating Mr. Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, respectively.

The victories resulted in a 50-50 split in the Senate, handing Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said Mr. 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.”

“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,” Mr. Hall said. “It may be difficult for David Perdue to see this over the gates of his coastal estate, but Joe Biden’s dangerous agenda is hitting hardworking Georgians in the wallet and endangering their livelihoods — and we all have David Perdue to thank for it.”

Mr. Kemp defeated Ms. Abrams, a voting rights activist and former minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives, in the 2018 gubernatorial race. Mr. Biden is the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential election since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Mr. Trump celebrated Mr. Perdue‘s announcement.

David was a great Senator, and he truly loves his State and his Country,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “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).”

He cost us two Senate seats and a Presidential victory in the Great State of Georgia,” he said.

The Republican primary showdown is music to Democrats’ ears.

They hope a nasty primary fight will help boost Ms. Abrams and Mr. Warnock. Mr. Warnock is running for his first full term after winning a special election.

In his announcement, Mr. Perdue said Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger missed the chance to make sure the GOP won the Senate seats.

“Think of how different it would be today if Kemp fought Abrams first instead of Trump,” Mr. Perdue said. “It is time for a change.”

Mr. Perdue appeared to be alluding to a 2020 consent decree that Mr. Raffensperger and Democratic organizations signed off on to settle a lawsuit from Democrats over signature matching on absentee ballots.

Independent fact-checkers have slapped down the idea that the agreement swung the election results.

Mr. Perdue said he will push to eliminate the state income tax, confront rising crime and give parents a bigger say in public education.

“We face an unprecedented onslaught from the woke left in Georgia and across the country,” he said. “We cannot keep giving in, and caving in to their demands. We must simply fight back to protect Georgia.”

Correction: Brad Raffensperger‘s last name was misspelled in a previous version of this story. 

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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