Former GOP Sen. David Perdue announced Monday he is running for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, challenging incumbent governor Brian Kemp and entering what will be one of the most watched contests in 2022.
Perdue, an ally of Donald Trump, announced his bid via video distributed on social media. He is already working closely with the former president on fundraising plans and endorsement strategies. He was ousted earlier this year in a fierce runoff election with now-Sen. Jon Ossoff, an effort that delivered Democrats control of the Senate.
His plans were first reported by Politico.
The announcement is the latest bit of politicking to shake up the Peach State.
Voting rights advocate and Democratic superstar Stacey Abrams said Wednesday she would run again for governor after a close race in 2018 in which she lost to Kemp by less than 1.4 percentage points. Abrams has spent the intervening years driving voter registration efforts and was hailed by Democratic leaders for helping elect Ossoff and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in 2020.
The New York Times reported that Abrams’ announcement hastened Perdue’s own and solidified his desire to enter the race. Republicans fear an Abrams victory could turn the state blue amid Trump’s ongoing attacks on Kemp.
The former president remains angered that the governor refused to support his lies about the 2020 presidential election and overturn the state’s results.
During a campaign rally on Sept. 25 in Perry, Georgia, Trump encouraged Perdue to run, calling him a “great guy” who “loves this state,” before going on to call Kemp a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only.”
Comments released after the reports of Perdue’s bid portend a vicious Republican primary.
“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,” Cody Hall, a spokesperson for Kemp, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ”Governor Kemp has a proven track record of fighting the radical left to put hardworking Georgians first, while Perdue is best known for ducking debates, padding his stock portfolio during a pandemic, and losing winnable races.”
A spokesperson for Perdue shot back at those claims in a statement to the newspaper, saying: “If Brian Kemp fought Stacey Abrams as hard as he fights Perdue and Trump, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
The Times added that Kemp, a veteran lawmaker in the state, has a sizable war chest to run again, sitting on nearly $12 million.
This story has been updated with Perdue’s announcement.
Liza Hearon contributed reporting.