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ATLANTA – Former Sen. David Perdue said he “absolutely” got a political bump out of his appearance with former President Trump at a rally in Georgia a week and a half ago.
Perdue, with Trump’s backing, is primary challenging Gov. Brian Kemp, but trails the incumbent GOP governor in two key campaign metrics — public opinion polling and fundraising — with just seven weeks to go until Georgia’s May 24 primary.
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Perdue said in a Fox News interview on Tuesday that ahead of the former president’s rally in Commerce, Georgia, on March 26, “only about half of Republicans in the state understood that I had Trump’s endorsement. He wanted to make sure he laid that down with no misunderstanding. So that was huge thing.”
Kemp, a one-time ally, earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after Kemp certified President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election following multiple recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has now returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp.
Trump for months urged Perdue to challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid. Perdue declared his candidacy a few days after Stacey Abrams, a voting rights champion and rising star in the Democratic Party, launched her second straight bid for governor.
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Trump praised Perdue at the recent rally, saying he’ll “save Georgia.” And the former president lambasted the governor, arguing that “Trump voters will not go out and vote for Brian Kemp.”
Perdue said Trump was “educating people about the endorsement and then telling them what’s at stake here in this primary. He’s trying to get everybody to get out and vote because a lot of people will wait and vote in the general election, and they’ll default on whoever the candidate will be to represent the Republican side against Stacey Abrams. And he was reminding people that that’s a huge mistake.”
But on John Frederick’s conservative talk radio program Tuesday, Trump acknowledged that “it’s always hard to beat a sitting governor. It’s hard. It’s very hard to beat, because they have a lot of money behind them. You know, everybody is giving them money. But we will see what happens.”
Trump also appeared to lower expectations, adding: “it’s a shame. It’s a shame. Not easy to beat a sitting governor. Just remember that.”
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Perdue told Fox News that Trump is “going to do whatever it takes to win this thing.”
Asked if the former president will return to Georgia ahead of the primary, Perdue said he and Trump are “going to do some tele-rallies. It could very well be that he comes back. … If he needs to, he’ll be here.”
Trump might be needed.
Perdue trails Kemp in the most recent opinion surveys, including a Fox News poll conducted March 2-6 that indicated Kemp led Perdue by 11 points among Republicans likely to vote in the primary. But all the surveys were conducted before Trump’s Georgia rally.
Trump stars in Perdue’s TV ads, which the former senator said will keep running through the primary.
And Perdue emphasized that “I’m on the road every day …we’re hustling around the state making sure people hear the message.”
Perdue spoke with Fox News the day after the conclusion of the state’s legislative session.
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Georgia political veterans point to a smooth and successful legislative session for the governor, who saw many of the bills on his wish listed passed by state lawmakers.
“Getting a primary challenge ahead of a legislative session really allowed Gov. Kemp to maximize his home field advantage in what was arguably the most successful session of his first term,” veteran Georgia-based Republican consultant Chip Lake told Fox News.
“Governor Kemp will spend the next few weeks in bill review and then will strategically schedule bill signings all across the state to highlight all of the conservative policy accomplishments achieved during the last three months,” Lake said. “It’s a gold mine ahead of a late May primary election.”
But Perdue doesn’t see it that way.
“But I look at this session as small ball, frankly. I mean he [Kemp] hasn’t done anything major there,” he argued. “And what I’m looking at is a lot of things that they did accomplish in this session they happened after I got in the race. Constitutional carry was going nowhere. I got in and said we ought to have Constitutional carry. Next thing I know, they’re working on a bill to get that done. We wanted a parent’s bill of rights. I called that out in December. He now has a watered-down version of that going through here.”
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Perdue noted that the gas tax holiday in Georgia that Kemp pushed for “expires a few days after the primary election. You don’t have to be a political pundit to see the obvious reality of why that’s being done.”
And he claimed, “I think he spent a lot of energy in this session making sure he gets reelected.”
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/perdue-kemp-trump-georgia-gop-gubernatorial-race