ATLANTA — Former Senator David Perdue officially put himself on the May ballot when he qualified to run for governor Wednesday. Perdue will face his former ally, Gov. Brian Kemp, in what has become a very divisive GOP race.
The race between Kemp and Perdue will be the headliner in a primary election where early voting is less than two months away.
Perdue posed for photo after photo at the capitol – not with prominent Republicans, but rather with scouts visiting the building on a field trip. Republicans in the capitol have mostly stayed neutral or sided with Kemp, making the former US senator a sudden outsider.
"A lot of the political establishment said 'David, you're going to divide the party,'" Perdue told reporters after filing for the GOP primary. "My answer to that is no, it’s already divided. I didn’t do that. Brian Kemp did that."
Perdue says Kemp did that by declining to take steps to intervene in the 2020 election – when Perdue lost his US Senate seat in a runoff – and which Donald Trump lost by about twelve thousand votes in Georgia.
Kemp says he followed the law, which didn't allow him to intervene.
Whichever Republican wins will face Stacey Abrams – who qualified Tuesday and faces no known Democratic opposition.
"We demonstrated Georgia is a force to be reckoned with in Democratic politics," Abrams said after qualifying.
Abrams has kept her profile low while Perdue and Kemp have stumped around Georgia, badmouthing each other while competing for Republican primary votes.
"Oh, I am sitting back and watching the show," said Georgia Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams, who also represents Georgia's 5th district in Congress. "I’m gonna let them continue to push through their primary season just as we’re doing with ours."
Democrats have hotly contested races for Lieutenant Governor and other down-ballot offices.
And while Perdue shot photos with scouts, his unseen asset is Donald Trump. Perdue has Trump’s vocal backing—and echoes Trump’s criticism of the 2020 election.
"The conclusion I made early in this race is being proven out all over the state, and that is I don’t see how Brian (Kemp) is going to pull together all the Republican party to stand up against Stacey. They’re too upset about too many things right now," Perdue said.
Perdue is a multi millionaire who, according to early disclosures, has declined to sink his own money into his campaign. He hinted Wednesday that will change between now and the May primary.
Kemp is planning to qualify to run for re-election Thursday – and is expected to have much of the capitol’s Republican establishment at his side when he does.