Georgia GOPers Quietly Asked Perdue To Not Run For Governor Before He Did It Anyway

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at Peachtree Dekalb Airport on December 14, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. As early voting begins, Perdue is facing Democrati... ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 14: Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at Peachtree Dekalb Airport on December 14, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. As early voting begins, Perdue is facing Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff in a runoff election. The results of two Georgia Senate races will determine the party that controls the majority in the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Before former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) launched his primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp (R) last week, a majority of the Republicans in the Georgia state Senate privately sent him a letter asking him to please not do that.

In the November letter, which was first obtained by Axios, the GOP lawmakers thanked Perdue for his service as a U.S. senator and said they hoped he’ll run for that job again as they hinted that he should leave Kemp, who had already received 31 endorsements from state senators at that point, alone.

“We are asking you to join us in fully supporting and endorsing Governor Brian Kemp for reelection,” the letter said.

The Republican senators, fully aware of how Kemp has become one of ex-President Donald Trump’s biggest punching bags, signaled that their request stemmed from fears of intra-party divisions, telling Perdue that they “must be unified behind our governor with a positive message” to “keep Georgia conservative and moving forward.”

The letter — which was circulated only in paper form in a (now failed) effort to keep it from becoming public, according to Axios — was signed by 25 of the state’s 34 Republican senators.

Perdue went ahead and announced a bid to unseat Kemp anyway several weeks later.

Confirming to Axios that he had received the letter, Perdue mocked the state senators’ appeal, saying it was “kind of funny” that the lawmakers thought they could persuade him.

“This is what career politicians do,” Perdue said. “They think that endorsements among each other can elbow an outsider out of a race.”

“People who vote don’t care about that,” he continued. “You know who cares about that? Career politicians.”

Several of the letter’s signatories didn’t take too kindly to Perdue’s swipes.

“We hold Sen. Perdue in the highest regard and always will, and wish that he had responded to us in the same manner in which we originally engaged with him,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R) told Axios, while state Sen. John Albers (R) said it was “concerning and wholly inaccurate” to call him and his colleagues career politicians.

Albers also jabbed at the idea that Perdue himself isn’t a career politician, claiming that the ex-U.S. senator spent more time in office than most of the lawmakers who signed the letter.

Perdue has firmly aligned himself with Trump, who’s rewarded him with an endorsement, and has been working overtime to contrast his fealty to Trump with that of Kemp, who attracted Trump’s wrath when he chose not to support his effort to steal Georgia from Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia’s election results if he had been governor, and last week he filed a phony lawsuit to try to undo Biden’s victory over a year after the election.

Read the letter below:

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

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