Republican David Perdue is cozying up to Donald Trump ahead of his Saturday rally in Georgia by embracing one of the former president’s favorite lies: That the 2020 election was “stolen.”
The Trump-backed challenger to Gov. Brian Kemp has long promoted the falsehood that rampant fraud in Georgia’s 2020 election led to Joe Biden’s victory. But this week he began claiming that his defeat to Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff was also tainted.
“Most people in Georgia know that something untoward happened in November 2020,” he told conservative radio host Brian Pritchard. “I’ll just say it, Brian. In my election and the president’s election, they were stolen. The evidence is compelling now.”
The election wasn’t stolen. Three separate tallies of the roughly 5 million ballots upheld Biden’s narrow victory, court challenges by Trump allies were squashed, and bipartisan election officials have vouched for the results.
An audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb County found no cases of fraud. Perdue previously didn’t argue his election was “stolen” — in fact, he conceded to Ossoff shortly after the Jan. 5, 2021, runoff.
But Perdue’s embrace of the conspiracy theory reflects reliance on Trump to narrow Kemp’s solid lead in polls and in fundraising. With less than two months before the May 24 vote, time is running short for Perdue to erase Kemp’s lead.
Meanwhile, Democrats welcomed Trump’s visit to rural northeast Georgia with a winsome country ballad that serves up a reminder of his strained relations with Kemp.
The 30-second digital ad, put together by the Democratic Party of Georgia, features images of the two Republicans in happier times. It ends with a picture of a haggard-looking Kemp as audio plays of Trump calling him a “complete disaster.”
‘Outrageous and tone deaf’
Though Perdue has tried to expand his platform beyond his loyalty to the former president, including promises to abolish the state income tax and block the proposed $5 billion Rivian plant, Trump remains the core of his campaign argument.
And Trump has devoted special attention to unseating Kemp, first by clearing the way for Perdue’s challenge and, more recently, by doling out his endorsement to other Republicans who can damage the governor’s political standing.
Case in point: The most recent recipients of Trump’s blessing are both little-known challengers to Kemp allies in down-ticket races.
Why does Trump hold a grudge against his former ally? He blames Kemp for his 2020 defeat and said he should have refused to certify the results of the election, something that the governor was bound by law to do.
The other members of the pro-Trump slate have embraced a similar phony narrative of election fraud.
Former Democrat Vernon Jones, who earned Trump’s blessing for a congressional bid, fancies himself the “Black Donald Trump.” And John Gordon, who just launched a challenge against Attorney General Chris Carr, falsely claimed Trump “won Georgia.”
They are among seven Trump-backed Republicans who will share the stage at Saturday’s event, which will be held at a dusty racetrack outside of Commerce.
Trump also wants to boost former Georgia football star Herschel Walker, the Republican frontrunner in the race for U.S. Senate who is already looking ahead to a matchup against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.
Democrats and their allies framed the Trump visit – and the uptick on Republican-on-Republican feuding – as a distraction from pressing policy debates such as expanding Medicaid.
“It’s outrageous and tone deaf that Trump, Perdue and Walker will visit Commerce and focus on disproven election lies and party infighting” said Liz Ernst of the Protect Our Care Georgia advocacy group, “instead of addressing the region’s health care crisis.”