Opinion: Perdue and Hice had better options than Trump

052422 Atlanta: Governor Brian Kemp reacts to cheering supporters as he take the stage to deliver his election night party speech at the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
052422 Atlanta: Governor Brian Kemp reacts to cheering supporters as he take the stage to deliver his election night party speech at the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2022 Georgia Primary, it might be a reminder to chart your own political path in life — and be wary of helping others settle their scores.

For ex-Sen. David Perdue, and soon to be ex-U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, that lesson was harshly delivered by the voters in Georgia, who rebuked Perdue and Hice for parroting Donald Trump’s never-ending false claims of election fraud.

Perdue’s bid to help Trump exact vengeance on Gov. Brian Kemp — for the mortal sin of not helping Trump overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia — was particularly baffling. And deep down, the voters knew it.

Perdue’s candidacy was not about building some kind of grand vision for the state of Georgia. This was all about Trump, and Perdue’s constant talk about the 2020 election rang an especially discordant note for voters.

“They were not going to kick out a great Governor or be willing participants in the DJT (Trump) Vendetta Tour,” said Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, who came to Georgia to help Kemp.

Days after ridiculing polls that showed him losing by 30 points, Perdue was blown out by much more, as Kemp won every single county in the state.

Perdue lost by staggering numbers in the Atlanta metro area: 80-16% in Cobb County, 76-19% in Cherokee, 78-18% in Gwinnett, 77-19% in Henry. You get the picture.

The numbers were closer, but no less impactful in the race for Georgia Secretary of State, as incumbent Brad Raffensperger — who stood up to Trump more than anyone else in Georgia after the 2020 election — not only defeated Hice but avoided a runoff.

Even more so than Perdue, Hice ran a campaign that was centered squarely on Trump’s false claims that Raffensperger ran an election operation in Georgia which was rotten to the core.

“Georgia deserves a Secretary of State who will restore confidence in our election system,” Hice argued.

Both Perdue and Hice ran underwhelming primary campaigns with few TV ads in the final weeks —almost like their hearts weren’t really in the race to begin with.

Hice could have easily won re-election to Congress this year, positioning himself for a much larger role on Capitol Hill — especially with Republicans favored to win back the U.S. House.

Perdue and Hice both had a clear choice after the 2020 elections. They could have focused on economic issues of interest to Georgia workers and businesses.

Instead, they chose the Donald Trump election vendetta tour.

The voters of Georgia were not interested in settling Trump’s scores.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com