Former Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue is expected to soon launch a bid for governor of Georgia, according to a source familiar with the matter, setting up a high-stakes primary challenge against incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
Perdue’s decision comes just days after Politico was first to report the news and said a formal announcement is expected to come on Monday.for governor on the Democratic side.
The GOP gubernatorial primary is likely to be incredibly divisive in the key swing state. Former President Donald Trump has railed against Kemp after President Biden won Georgia in the 2020 election. Mr. Trump has encouraged a strong primary challenger to enter the race and floated Perdue’s name at a Georgia rally in September.
“Are you going to run for governor David Perdue?” Mr. Trump said at the rally. “He’s a great guy and he loves this state.”
Perdue is a wealthy businessman and a close ally of Mr. Trump. Perdue won his 2014 Senate race by pitching himself as an outsider, but lost his bid for reelection against Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff in January. He decided against making another Senate run earlier this year.
“I’m concerned about the state of our state,” Perdue told a talk radio show in Georgia last month. “We have a divided party in Georgia right now. Forget about me. It’s divided. And a lot of people feel like the people in power haven’t fought for them and caved in to a lot of things back in 2020 that didn’t have to be done.”
The primary campaign will likely divide many Georgia Republicans ahead of the high-profile gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in the state next year. Republicans are hoping for big wins in 2022 after Mr. Biden’s victory in 2020 and Democrats flipped two U.S. Senate seats to gain control of the chamber.
Former Georgia state representative, who used to be a Democrat but switched parties, and educator Kandiss Taylor are also challenging Kemp.
Kemp last week addressed the reports that Perdue was considering challenging him after initially planning to support the governor’s reelection bid.
“All I know is what Senator Perdue has told me. I hope he’ll be a man of his word, but again that’s not anything I can control,” Kemp said.
In a statement on Sunday, Kemp campaign communications director Cody Hall said, “Perdue’s only reason for running is to soothe his own bruised ego.”
“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. “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.”
At a conference in Arizona last month, Republican Governors Association Chair Doug Duceyand said, “the RGA is in the business, of course, of supporting our incumbents and ultimately electing Republican governors.” Ducey added that decisions will be made “race by race” for how to use resources, but said that the RGA won’t attack other Republicans.
“We don’t fund losers. We don’t fund landslides,” Ducey said. “The RGA follows the 11th commandment. We do not speak ill of another Republican.”