David Perdue is, once again, a loser.
A year after coughing up his Senate seat to Democrat Jon Ossof, the 72-year-old business executive-turned-politician has been trounced in the Republican primary for governor of Georgia. Perdue entered the race backed with the blessing of Donald Trump, who has long been pining to replace incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, whom the former president believes didn’t work hard enough to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Kemp beat Perdue Tuesday on a race that was called shortly after the polls closed.
Perdue’s campaign was based almost entirely on the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was fraudulent. The false idea was the primary focus of his campaign ads, his stump speeches, and his debate appearances. “Let me be very clear tonight,” he said in his opening statement prior to a debate in April,” the 2020 election was rigged and stolen.”
“Let me be very clear tonight: The election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.”
— Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue falsely claims during a GOP primary debate that incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R) “allowed radical Democrats to steal our election.” pic.twitter.com/cRlGProm1U
— The Recount (@therecount) April 25, 2022
Perdue’s loss on Tuesday was not surprising. He trailed Kemp in the polls by a significant margin throughout the campaign, reportedly to the point that even Trump gave up on him. Perdue tried to deflect questions about his poor performance in the homestretch of the campaign, arguing that the polls were “full of crap” because the methodology was flawed.
His desperation didn’t end there. Perdue made headlines on Monday for launching racist attacks against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, telling her to “go back to where she came from” (Abrams was born in Wisconsin but raised in Georgia), and saying that she was “demeaning her own race” by “telling Black farmers they don’t need to be on the farm.”
Kemp — who became one of Trump’s biggest enemies by displaying even a minimal amount of respect for democracy — has now beaten Perdue in a romp. And Perdue’s wipeout is only the latest high-profile loss for the former presidents preferred candidates. Charles Herbster, the accused sexual abuser he favored for governor in Nebraska, lost his primary by a sizable margin, as did Janice McGeachin, another election conspiracy theorist he endorsed for governor in Idaho.
At least for now, it appears Trump has no intention of dropping his vendetta against Kemp. In the days leading up to Tuesday night’s primary election, Trump — anticipating that his endorsee would fail to beat the incumbent — began asking confidants for ideas for other ways Trump and his loyalists could work to punish Kemp, or at least make his political life harder, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.
However, that isn’t stopping some of Trump’s longtime allies from hoping he will — somehow — lose interest in his so far unsuccessful mission of vengeance against Kemp.
“What happens tomorrow — does [Trump] endorse Brian Kemp, does David Perdue endorse Brian Kemp? — is what’s important,” Jack Kingston, the former U.S. congressman from Georgia who worked as an official Trump surrogate during the 2020 campaign, told Rolling Stone on Tuesday. “Perdue told me he would, and he told others he would…if he lost in the primary. And I believe that he will.”
As for the notoriously vengeful Trump?
“Look, I’m a Trump supporter — but we lost [in 2020]. We have to do everything sensible to win,” Kingston adds. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump dropped his vendetta. It wouldn’t surprise me if he kept his vendetta. But the practical thing to do is drop it and help unite the party in a swing state … If you turn your eyes to 2024, and you see that Georgia is a swing state at this point, you don’t want to be on the opposite side of the incumbent, duly elected governor, [assuming that Kemp wins in the general]. It’s in Trump’s interest to be on this team.”