ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp took a jab at former Sen. David Perdue on Thursday, saying his his campaign to mount a primary challenge to Kemp is about trying to "regain power again after losing a race to a 33-year-old."
"I've been a governor that's doing something about the problems that exist, not just talking to them and making blowing-in-the-wind promises to regain power again after losing a race to a 33-year-old," the governor said in remarks to reporters.
Kemp said he believes his record of maintaining the flow of economic and social activity through the pandemic and addressing street crime will resonate with GOP voters in the Republican primary.
"I welcome that challenge," he said. "I know this is gonna be a tough re-elect but we've got a great record to run on. I've been in the fight on these issue - to open our economy, get our kids back in the classroom, keep our churches open... standing with our men and women in law enforcement, doing something about violent crime and street racing in the city of Atlanta and cutting taxes for hard-working Georgians, strengthening rural Georgia. And if somebody wants to get in you'd have to ask them why."
Kemp faces a schism within the Georgia GOP, with Perdue enjoying the blessing of former President Donald Trump.
The governor has been a fixation of former President Trump's since Georgia's closely-contested presidential election last year, out of a belief that Kemp did not do enough to help him in his quest to overturn the state's result favoring President Joe Biden.
Perdue, in his campaign announcement, signaled he will attempt to exploit the conservative fault lines in Georgia, positioning himself as the better bet to beat Democrat Stacey Abrams.
"To fight back, we simply have to be united." Perdue said. "Unfortunately, today, we are divided. Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame."
The governor defended his actions during last year's elections, and highlighted reported comments by Perdue that he wouldn't have certified the 2020 election results if it were up to him.
"He might wanna read the law. If he didn't wanna certify the election, he needs to be running for secretary of state, not governor," Kemp said, referring to Georgia law that dictates it is the secretary of state's role to certify election results. "I think we've been very clear in the campaign at pushing back against a statement like that - I took an oath to follow the laws and the constitution of this state. If he wants to run for governor by not doing that, and telling people that in advance, certainly he can take that position."
The governor said the focus of his campaign ultimately will not be on Perdue, because, "I'm gonna be telling people what I've done and what I wanna do versus just attacking somebody else."
"I believe you need to give people a reason to vote for you, and I think people are gonna want to vote for me because of the great economy we've got, because our kids are back in school, because our churches are open and because I've been standing with men and women in law enforcement and really fulfilling the promises that I ran on in 2018," Kemp said.