NEWNAN, Ga. — A bitter and divisive Republican primary for governor is expected with the announcement Monday that former U.S. Sen. David Perdue will challenge Gov. Brian Kemp. Both men are popular in the Republican party and only one can win the nomination.
Coweta County voters supported Kemp in 2018 with 70% of the vote; they also supported Perdue by almost the same amount two years later.
"I’m a fan of both of them," said Tony Knowles of Sharpsburg, who was happy to support Perdue's Senate race last year and Kemp in 2018. But running against each other, Knowles said he'll support Kemp.
"I like Perdue. Yeah, if he were running and Kemp wasn’t running, I would support him," Knowles said.
Louis Carroll said Kemp "sort of let me down" by declining to intervene on behalf of former President Donald Trump when Trump was trying to challenge the election last year that delivered Georgia’s electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s lasting scorn has followed and he recently backed Perdue against Kemp.
"I would much rather see Perdue in there than Kemp just hands down," added Bobby Nichols of Peachtree City. "Brian Kemp, I don’t know where – it just doesn’t seem like he’s a Georgia boy to me."
Kemp is a Georgia native who attended UGA.
"It's time for a change. If our governor was ever going to fight for us, wouldn’t he have done it already?" Perdue asked viewers in an announcement video he released Monday morning.
In the video, Perdue said he likes his former ally— but said he, Perdue, has a better chance of beating Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. Kemp beat Abrams in 2018. Perdue lost a U.S. Senate runoff to Democrat Jon Ossoff in January.
GOP voter Dan Gott of Coweta County said Perdue's challenge "absolutely" makes Abrams more electable in November.
Knowles said he’s a fan of President Trump – but also thinks Trump should stop trying to influence Georgia politics.
"I think Kemp’s done a good job," Knowles said. "I do like Trump but I think Trump needs to go away. I think we’d all be better off if we could put that in the past and move on."
Meantime, Democrats are hoping to see Republicans Perdue and Kemp tear each other up between now and next year’s Republican primary. So far, Abrams faces no Democratic opposition.