The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported earlier this month that Perdue was considering another Senate run, essentially freezing the field until he makes up his mind.
Perdue was narrowly defeated by Democrat Jon Ossoff in a Jan. 5 runoff, part of a Democratic sweep that also lifted Warnock over U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler to fill the remaining two years of retired Republican Johnny Isakson’s term. Their upset victories flipped control of the Senate, giving Democrats a narrow edge in a 50-50 chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker.
Notably, Perdue’s argument that Republicans needed to rein in Biden’s agenda was one he refused to make during the nine-week runoff. Throughout that campaign, the first-term senator would not acknowledge Biden’s victory for fear of incensing President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the election was “rigged.”
He also continued to refuse to invoke his opponent’s name. Even Perdue’s concession statement didn’t specifically mention Ossoff, who won the runoff by about 55,000 votes.
The former Fortune 500 executive is probably the only candidate who could scare off other well-known Republican challengers in 2022, when Warnock is up for a full six-year term that will test how decisively Georgia has shifted to the left. Gov. Brian Kemp is also running for reelection and is widely expected to face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is considering a rematch.
Perdue would enter the race with advantages, including roughly $5 million in campaign cash remaining in his bank account, sky-high name recognition after the nationally watched runoffs and a close alliance with Trump, who still remains popular among state Republicans even amid eroding poll numbers.
But it’s still not clear whether Perdue will launch another bid.
A senior Perdue adviser characterized Monday’s filing as a necessary legal step but added that the former senator is “leaning heavily toward” running again. If Perdue decides to launch another bid, the adviser said, he will decide by March 1, put together a campaign team and announce in April.
Another person close to Perdue said the former senator was “keeping the powder dry and all options open” if he decides to pull the trigger.
Two other 2020 Republican rivals are also ruminating on a Senate run: Loeffler and former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who fought each other throughout the year for a spot in the runoff against Warnock. Both are said to be waiting on Perdue’s decision before they make up their minds.
Several other Republicans could join the fray, a list that includes Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and attorney Randy Evans, a former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg with ties to Trump and ex-U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Warnock will be a formidable foe. Georgia’s first Black senator, Warnock is the senior pastor of Atlanta’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, holding the historic pulpit where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. As a first-time candidate, Warnock defeated Loeffler by roughly 93,000 votes out of nearly 4.5 million cast.