PERRY, GA -- Governor Sonny Perdue launched a soaring endorsement of Donald Trump Monday during an appearance by Trump's running mate Mike Pence at the Georgia National Fairgrounds.
It's familiar turf for Perdue. He lives in Bonaire, a few miles away. He was a two-term governor of Georgia, and the first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
Prior to his introduction of Pence, Perdue was asked by a reporter if he was considering a political comeback in the 2018 election, when voters will choose a successor to Gov. Nathan Deal.
"Well, I’m gonna vote for Mary in two years," Perdue laughed, dodging the question and gesturing to his wife.
The question persisted. Perdue dodged again. "Well, you know I wouldn’t tell you if I was!" he laughed again.
If he'd wanted to snuff any rumor of a Perdue comeback, the former governor sidestepped the opportunity.
Although Perdue apparently retired from politics when Deal took office in 2011, he never stepped completely away. When the legislature passed a tough immigration bill in 2011, Perdue said publicly that he thought the bill overreached, and expressed concern about its impact on the Republican Party.
Three years later, Perdue was a hearty backer of the US Senate candidacy of his cousin, David Perdue. David Perdue won, giving the Perdue family an Act 2 in Georgia politics.
Sen. Perdue is now a vocal backer of Trump. Monday, Sonny Perdue was as well, despite Trump's controversial stances on immigration. Trump handily won Georgia's March 1 GOP primary -- voters who will have a hand in deciding the GOP nominee for Governor in 2018.
Sonny Perdue could run again if he wanted to; the New Georgia Encyclopedia points out that although governors are term-limited to eight consecutive years, they can run again if they sit out four years.
However, Perdue would likely have to get past three GOP officials often mentioned most as likely 2018 candidates: Attorney General Sam Olens, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.
The last two former governors who tried to reclaim their seats lost. Former Gov. Roy Barnes lost to Deal in 2010. (Sonny Perdue beat Barnes when Barnes ran for re-election in 2002.)
And former Gov. Carl Sanders lost to state Sen. Jimmy Carter in 1970.