The Jolt: Internal memo shows why David Perdue’s campaign thinks he can still win

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 26, 2022 Commerce - David Perdue takes on the stage during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce on Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /



March 26, 2022 Commerce - David Perdue takes on the stage during a rally for Georgia GOP candidates at Banks County Dragway in Commerce on Saturday, March 26, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /

David Perdue’s campaign is trailing far behind Gov. Brian Kemp in polls and fundraising. Some recent events have drawn anemic crowds and his most important supporter, Donald Trump, is downplaying his chances.

But Perdue’s campaign sees a glimmer of hope in the surge of in-person early voting. In an internal memo obtained by your Insiders, Perdue’s camp predicts a “MAGA surge” that will force Kemp into a June runoff.

Is it wishful thinking? We’ll let you be the judge. But here are the highlights:

  • More than 124,000 Georgians have cast GOP primary ballots through May 9, nearly four times the number that had cast ballots through the same period in 2018.
  • Of those, 46% didn’t vote in the 2018 primary that featured Kemp and four other GOP rivals. And 18,000 of the GOP voters who skipped the last midterm cast votes in other elections every time Trump was on the ballot.
  • Turnout in Trump-friendly regions is “outpacing squishy moderate areas.” That includes the districts represented by Reps. Andrew Clyde, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jody Hice.

“It’s clear that our Trump-endorsed campaign is surging,” the memo concludes, “and we are headed to a runoff with Kemp that he cannot win.”


Now for the grain of salt: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll indicates that many die-hard Trump supporters – including those who said his endorsement was important – hold Kemp in high regard and plan to back him.

The higher turnout areas also include districts that Kemp dominated in 2018, including his home territory in northeast Georgia. And the early-voting surge could be a symptom of a broader GOP migration away from mail-in voting.

Kemp wants to leave nothing to chance – and is aiming to formally announce a Hyundai Motor Corp. plant in southeast Georgia before the May 24 primary. His campaign dismissed talk of a Perdue surge and mocked the $500,000 check he stroked for his bid.

“The guy supposedly worth $50 million has only loaned his campaign $500,000, hasn’t spent any of it, and doesn’t have any major advertising the last two weeks of the primary,” said Kemp spokesman Cody Hall.

“David Perdue’s campaign may not think this race is over, but David Perdue certainly does.”


We break down David Perdue’s cash, Brian Kemp’s latest car deals, and Herschel Walker’s latest comments on his debate strategy and mental health in our mid-week edition of the Politically Georgia podcast.

Listen below and subscribe to our podcast for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


A new committee called Georgians for Honesty in Government is pumping big money into Republican challenger John Gordon’s bid to unseat Attorney General Chris Carr in the upcoming primary.

Gordon, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, has already reported that he’s loaning his campaign $1.2 million, partly offsetting Carr’s big fundraising advantage.

Gordon’s critics have questioned whether he’s even eligible to serve as attorney general if he wins, saying it’s unclear if he’s got the required seven years of legal practice in the state.

Gordon renewed his law license last year to help Trump’s failed legal challenge to overturn the 2020 election results.

Gordon has said he’s practiced law for about a decade, taking time off to run his business, however Georgia Bar records don’t go back far enough to verify that.

The new committee is headed by Caroline Jeffords, an officer in the Fulton GOP who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking a review of the 2020 presidential ballots.

Our AJC colleague James Salzer reports that she raised $600,000 in recent days. Of that, $500,000 came from a group called Take Back Georgia – which is quixotically based in Beverly, Mass..

Another $100,000, according to the group’s report, came from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, a GOP mega-donor. The group reported spending $460,000, mostly on advertising for Gordon.


Georgia voters on the campaign trail are seeing a lot more of the Republicans at the top of their tickets than the Democrats, thanks in large part to the contested GOP primaries for governor and U.S. Senate.

The Savannah Morning News’ Raisa Habersham has a write up from Stacey Abrams’ recent stop in south Georgia with this bit of color from an event with about 75 people in the audience:

Yet Abrams' supporters do worry about the low-energy atmosphere currently surrounding the candidate. Savannah rally attendees Juanita Dixon and her friend Comia Flynn bemoaned the lack of pre-event publicity - Flynn found about Abrams' appearance through a text message. She said she believed more people would've shown up had they known.

“I think we need to rally around more of our young people and really hit the streets, meeting people where they are," Flynn said.

Dixon agreed, saying the low turnout is motivation for her to contact Savannah residents about campaigning for Abrams, something she urged her supporters to do.

- Savannah Morning News

Habersham included this response from the Abrams’ camp:

“Stacey’s “One Georgia” tour events have varied in size and program but have the same goal — to center the communities we are visiting and hear about the issues impacting them,” said Michael Holloman, communications director for Abrams’ campaign.


Cityhood referendums for several proposed Cobb County cities are appearing on local voters’ primary ballots.

But Republican voters statewide are also seeing a question about Buckhead City, specifically, “Crime has dramatically increased throughout the country including in our capital city of Atlanta. Should the citizens of residential areas like the Buckhead community of Atlanta be allowed to vote to create their own city governments and police departments?”

Be advised that unlike the Cobb cityhood questions on ballots, which have the legal effect of creating cities, the Buckhead City question is a non-binding “ballot advisory question” on GOP ballots. It won’t appear on Democratic ballots and has no legal effect.

The Buckhead question is one of eight on Republican ballots. The rest focus on GOP base-pleasing topics like building a border wall and preventing social media companies from banning users who post offensive or inaccurate content.


Speaking of Buckhead City, an eagle-eyed reader asked if a recent Instagram post from Buckhead City’s Bill White filming himself voting yes on Buckhead City and displaying his vote on a state voting machine violates the law.

Reader, we are not a judge or jury, but we can tell you that Georgia state law prohibits photography inside a polling place and specifically says, “No photography shall be allowed of a ballot or the face of a voting machine or DRE unit while an elector is voting such ballot.”


One America News, the conservative media outlet that for months supported Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has now admitted there was no widespread election fraud in Georgia.

The network aired a small segment updating its previously erroneous reports on Georgia as part of a settlement with two election workers who sued the network for defamation.

Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss were the subject of conspiracy theories falsely alleging they had counted absentee ballots stored in hidden “suitcases” on election night.


POSTED: After weeks of delays caused by Republican opposition and COVID cases among Democrats, Georgia native Lisa Cook was confirmed to serve on the Federal Reserve Board Tuesday night.

Cook will become the first Black woman to serve on the board.

The vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Every Senate Republican opposed Cook’s nomination.


The U.S. House has passed a resolution that would provide nearly $40 billion in emergency funding to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion.

That vote on H.R. 7691 was overwhelmingly bipartisan with 368 members, including all Democrats and most Republicans, in favor.

Of the 57 GOP lawmakers who opposed the measure, three were from Georgia: Reps. Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Senate is expected to take up the Ukraine aid legislation next week.

The House also signed off on a measure that would allow staffers to unionize, with all Republicans opposed to the measure. The final vote was 217-202.

The bill grants employees legal protections to form a union and comes amid discussions of low pay and high turnover among staffers.


Today in Washington:

  • The U.S. Senate will begin debate on a bill to create a federal law permitting abortion. Democrats don’t have the votes they need to avoid a filibuster but want to force Republicans to go on the record opposing the measure.
  • U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s bill that would establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices, including recusal provisions, will be taken up in the House Judiciary Committee.


There’s no replacing outgoing state Rep. Calvin Smyre, the longest serving member of the Legislature, but there is a race on to fill his seat.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has the details on Zeph Baker and Teddy Reese, the two Democrats running to succeed Smyre in his redrawn and renumbered Columbus district, which appears on ballots as House District 140.

State Rep. Carolyn Hugley weighed in on the race, saying, “I can’t think of a better person to follow in his (Calvin Smyre) footsteps than Teddy Reese.”


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is reviving a novel concept from the 80′s and 90′s to fight Atlanta crime-- midnight basketball.

The AJC’s Ernie Suggs has the write up of Dickens’ partnership with the Atlanta Police Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation to create a 10-team midnight basketball league.

Ernie writes the mayor “is banking on the league serving as a small vehicle to curb crime in the city by providing a positive atmosphere for young men in the most vulnerable demographic.”


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