Kemp’s first anti-Perdue ad leverages a key campaign finance edge

Kemp pushes back on Perdue’s comment he wouldn’t certify 2020 election if he was governor

Kemp pushes back on Perdue’s comment he wouldn’t certify 2020 election if he was governor

Just a week after David Perdue announced his primary challenge, Gov. Brian Kemp harnessed a newly created committee that can raise unlimited campaign cash to pummel the former U.S. senator with a scathing attack.

The 30-second spot is Kemp’s first ad that targets Perdue, an ally-turned-nemesis who entered the race with Donald Trump’s support and an insistence that he is the only Republican who can defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2022.

It revives the same criticism that Democrats leveled at Perdue during his last two election campaigns in 2014 and 2020 by assailing his corporate record of moving manufacturing jobs overseas while working as an executive for Pillowtex, Haggar, Reebok and Sara Lee.

“That’s not America First,” said the ad’s narrator, invoking the pro-Trump slogan. “That’s David Perdue putting China and himself first. Georgia and Georgia families last.”

The outsourcing of jobs is common in the corporate world, and Perdue said he was “proud” of that practice during his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate. He took a different tack in 2020, distancing himself from his business experience in Asia while trying to link Democrat Jon Ossoff with China.

The ad followed a week of feuding that serves as a preview of the brutal race between the two powerful GOP figures. Democrats hope the infighting plays into their favor in November, when Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock are set to top the ballot.

The roughly $1 million ad buy was financed through the Georgians First Leadership Committee, a pro-Kemp group created under a controversial new law that gives incumbents and top party officials a formidable advantage.

The law, which Kemp signed in July, allows the governor, lieutenant governor, legislative leaders from both parties and a few statewide nominees create funds that aren’t required to adhere to contribution caps.

Kemp and other incumbents can also use the leadership committees to accept contributions during the legislative session, when taking donations is otherwise prohibited.

The new law would allow Abrams to create a similar committee, but not until she wins the May primary to become her party’s nominee. That gives Kemp a head-start of nearly a year to amass as much cash as he can through the committees.

Likewise, Perdue would only be able to leverage the leadership committees if he ousted Kemp in the primary and became his party’s gubernatorial nominee.