Perdue removes image of disgraced deputy from TV ad

Republican David Perdue’s campaign on Wednesday removed footage of the gubernatorial candidate shaking hands with a disgraced former law enforcement officer from its latest TV ad after criticism from Gov. Brian Kemp’s allies.

The episode underscored how bitter the feud between the two Republican rivals has become since Perdue entered the race in December, with aides to both GOP contenders trading sharp barbs about the footage.

The spot flashed an image of Perdue greeting Grady Sanford, a former Forsyth County chief deputy who was charged in November 2020 with multiple counts related to child pornography. Sanford was fired after the arrest and authorities said the charges are still pending.

Kemp’s campaign called on Perdue to take down the TV ad and “apologize to the victims of Grady Sanford’s atrocious criminal behavior.” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said the footage is “absolutely reprehensible.”

Perdue’s top consultant, Austin Chambers, noted on social media that the event shown in the ad took place in August 2019 – before Sanford was charged with wrongdoing – and also drew First Lady Marty Kemp. He said the ad was quickly fixed, calling it a “b-roll mistake.”

Hall shot back that it was Perdue’s “crack campaign team” that put the footage in the ad. He added that Marty Kemp attended the event to support Perdue’s 2020 bid for a second U.S. Senate term.

“You know, the same person David Perdue looked in the eye & told he would be supporting alongside the governor for re-election this year,” Hall posted on social media.

The TV spot is part of a volley of new ads Perdue’s campaign financed this week with a $600,000 ad buy.

The governor and his allies have described Perdue as a traitor after he entered the race for governor in December with Trump’s support. Perdue frames himself as the only Republican who can unite warring GOP factions to defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in November.