Incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) emerged victorious in the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, fending off an anemic challenge from former U.S. senator and Trump endorsee David Perdue.
Perdue conceded just after 8:30 p.m. EDT.
The outcome wasn’t much of a surprise: Kemp had been steamrolling Perdue in the polls by double-digit margins for weeks.
As ex-President Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidate, Perdue really only had one campaign platform, which was perfectly summarized in his opening remarks during a debate with Kemp last month: “First off, folks, let me be very clear tonight: the election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.”
It wasn’t, of course — and in fact, Perdue privately complained shortly after his failed Senate runoff against now-Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) last year that Trump’s obsessive lying about the election was how he lost the crucial Senate seat, according to the Washington Post.
Perdue’s 2022 campaign was essentially a sock puppet for Trump’s personal quest for revenge against Kemp, who had royally pissed off the former president by not doing enough to help him steal the 2020 election in Georgia.
But for all his influence over GOP style and messaging, Trump failed to gain any real traction for his war against Kemp from other elected Republicans, many of whom bucked the ex-president to stand by Kemp in the race.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who co-chair the Republican Governors Association (RGA), had rallied for Kemp ahead of the primary, as did ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and even Trump’s own vice president, Mike Pence.
Trump was furious at them for boosting “the worst ‘election integrity’ Governor in the country, Brian Kemp.”
(Perdue, for his part, stumped with ex-GOP vice presidential candidate and now-House candidate Sarah Palin over the weekend.)
But near the end, even Trump could see the writing on the wall and essentially gave up on Perdue in private, according to NBC News.
The ex-president didn’t bother showing up at Perdue’s final rally on Monday night, choosing instead to just call into the event for which the candidate thanked him and declared, “You’re the best, boss.”
It was during that Trumpless final rally that Perdue sunk to new lows.
Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is “demeaning her own race” and should “go back where she came from,” Perdue declared. (She’s been living in Georgia since high school.)
The racist attack brought to mind the time when Perdue pretended then-fellow Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) name was too foreign to pronounce.
Now that the bloodbath’s over, it’s worth noting that Perdue didn’t even want to run against Kemp in the beginning, and it took four rounds of golf and repeated phone calls for Trump to finally convince him to do it, the Post reported.
Despite his victory over Perdue, Kemp hasn’t exactly been considered a hero of American democracy by voting rights advocates: He’s backed the wave of ballot restrictions, and during his debate against Perdue he bragged about passing “the strongest election integrity act in the country” after the 2020 election “because a lot of things were done by other people.”
Now Kemp is headed toward a rematch with Abrams, whom he narrowly defeated in 2018.