The Jolt: David Perdue’s last stand includes racist insult of Stacey Abrams

News and analysis from the politics team of The Atlanta Journal Constitution

David Perdue’s original 2014 campaign for Senate took off when he ran an ad featuring his opponents portrayed as four whining babies and the grown up, Perdue, saying he’d be a different kind of leader in Washington.

If Perdue’s primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp ends in defeat on Tuesday, let history reflect that he didn’t cover himself in glory in the final chapter of that story.

His final major campaign stop before Tuesday’s primary was not a mega-rally in exurban Georgia or a gathering with his closest friends and supporters in his middle Georgia hometown.

Instead, it was a suburban Wild Wing Cafe in Dunwoody where he piggybacked off far-right radio host John Fredericks’ tour promoting Donald Trump’s fake election conspiracies.

The event started with a combative press conference in the eatery’s outdoor patio, where Perdue sparred with reporters over whether Trump is distancing himself from his endorsement, criticizing an NBC News journalist for refusing to retract a recent article.

He called polls showing him trailing Kemp by wide margins “full of crap” and claimed that media outlets, including Fox News, were tailoring their results against his supporters. And he said he wouldn’t necessarily accept the results of the election.

“Depends on if there’s fraud or not,” Perdue said.

But it was his follow-up interview with Fredericks from the stage that brought his teetering campaign to new depths.

He accused Stacey Abrams, who would be the first Black governor in Georgia history, of “demeaning her own race” when describing the state’s economic problems.

Perdue started the exchange by mocking Abrams’ recent remarks that Georgia is the “worst state to live in.” Then he evoked a 2018 comment Abrams made about creating economic opportunity.

“People shouldn’t have to go into agriculture or hospitality to make a living in Georgia,” she said at a stop in Statesboro in the final weeks of the campaign. “Why not create renewable energy jobs? Because, I’m going to tell y’all a secret: Climate change is real.”

Here’s what Perdue said:

“When she told Black farmers, ‘You don’t need to be on the farm,’ and she told Black workers in hospitality and all this, ‘You don’t need to be’ – she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that. I am really over this. She should never be considered material for governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live.”

Asked about it during an appearance Monday on MSNBC, Abrams said, “I think that, regardless of which Republican it is, I have yet to hear them articulate a plan for Georgia.”


Tune into our special Election Day edition of the Politically Georgia podcast this morning, recorded on site following former Vice President Pence’s visit to stump for Brian Kemp. We’ve got last-minute scoops, races to watch and so much more.

Listen and subscribe to the pod for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


All three of your morning Jolters were out late last night at former Vice President Mike Pence’s closing argument on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp, which also served as the opening argument for the November general election against Stacey Abrams.

In fact, by our count, Kemp and Pence brought up Abrams’ name 15 times and never mentioned David Perdue’s name once.

The event was also Pence’s debut as a candidate independent of Donald Trump, and a test run to lay the groundwork for his well-known White House ambitions.

He used the very un-Trumplike line that, “I will always believe there is more that unites us than divides us”, and told the crowd about the new GOP:

“There are some people who want to make this election about the past…when you vote tomorrow, you will send a message that the Republican Party is the party of the future.”

Spotted in the audience supporting the governor were plenty of Georgia GOP lawmakers, including state Rep. Ed Setzler, state Sen. Randy Robertson, and state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, along with U.S. Senate candidate Gary Black, lieutenant governor candidate Butch Miller and 6th Congressional District hopeful Dr. Rich McCormick.


Our AJC colleague Shannon McCaffrey was in Athens Monday night for Herschel Walker’s pre-primary rally, when he predicted an easy victory on Tuesday.

“Don’t worry about no runoff,” he told his supporters. “Runoff? Are you really serious? I want to beat you the first time around.”

The former football star was joined by his old coach Vince Dooley.

Oh, and don’t expect Walker to go forward with his plans for a “unity celebration” since his challengers have kept up their attacks.

Kelvin King, a military veteran, said he wouldn’t campaign with Walker if he wins the nomination. And Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said he wouldn’t vote for him because of his history of violence against women. “He hasn’t earned my vote,” Black said.


The big-ticket races may be getting most of the attention on Tuesday, but Primary Day includes a number of local races and issues on ballots, sure to drive the day, too.

  • Some Cobb County voters will weigh in on cityhood proposals in Vinings, Lost Mountain, and East Cobb;
  • Augusta has a non-partisan mayor’s race on the ballot, with nine candidates running to replace term-limited Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr.;
  • Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson is running for reelection against challenger John Anker.
  • Gwinnett County voters will see their first nonpartisan school board elections Tuesday, created with great controversy during the first weeks of the 2022 legislative session. Districts 2 and 4 will be up for grabs in May instead of November, making this the first and only chance for voters to weigh in on those.


U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene created a bizarre moment of her own Monday, when she dropped in on the Rome campaign office of Marcus Flowers, a Democrat running against her in the 14th Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene campaigns in Rome on Monday, May 2, 2022.  Greene, a far-right representative and conspiracy-peddling provocateur who has endorsed calls to assassinate prominent Democrats, is expected to coast to a primary victory on Tuesday, May 24 that will all but guarantee her another term in Congress. (Arvin Temkar /


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With a Greene campaign staffer filming the interaction on his phone, and Flowers’ own security cameras documenting it from above, Greene opened the campaign office door and said to a staffer, “Just wishing you guys some luck tomorrow.”

After chatting for a moment, and asking if anyone was working in the mostly empty office, Greene glanced around the large darkened space and criticized the state of the office.

“It’s a little messy at the front, leaving the food around and the chips,” she said. “Well, good luck guys!”


Over the weekend, Herschel Walker was asked at a Columbus rally about whether he would “stop the gay weddings.”

There was much crosstalk in the audio, but Walker responded that “each state should determine that.” Take a listen here.

Walker campaign spokeswoman Mallory Blount said Georgians should not take that to mean that the candidate, whose son is openly gay, wants to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage.

“Herschel understands that the Supreme Court has ruled on same-sex marriage and respects the authority of the courts,” said Mallory Blount, the spokeswoman. “He didn’t mean to imply anything else.”


POSTED: Automatic voter registration in Georgia rebounded after the state corrected an error on the Department of Driver Services website that stopped opting-in voters as a default, our colleague Mark Niesse reports.

Data provided by the department shows that 72% of citizens submitted voter registration information in April, up from 27% in March. In raw numbers, that amounts to 106,000 registration applications in April, compared with 46,000 in March.


In endorsement news:

  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed Vernon Jones in the Republican primary in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District;
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is backing Republican Jake Evans in Georgia’s 6th District;
  • Tea Party Express, which describes itself as the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, endorsed Rich McCormick in the 6th District contest.


Today in Washington:

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Michael Battle’s nomination to be Ambassador to Tanzania. He is the former president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.
  • The Senate also has some confirmation votes scheduled.
  • Biden is on his way home from his trip to Asia.
  • The House is out all week.


The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee signed off on a bill last week that includes language championed by Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter that would make changes at the Food and Drug Administration like eliminating animal testing for new drug developments and changing the process of approving new medications.

“The FDA Modernization Act will lead to safer, more effective drugs without unnecessary animal suffering,” Carter, R-Pooler, said in a news release. “By cutting the FDA red tape, we can create a medical industry that is more humane and better poised to provide life-saving aid.”


The state’s massive pension system for hundreds of thousands of current and former educators took a massive hit just before the start of the COVID pandemics when the stock market plummeted.

Our colleague James Salzer reported at the time that the Teachers Retirement System fund lost $15 billion – or 21% of its value – in a few weeks.

The decline led to a rekindling of talk from some Republican lawmakers that they needed to make changes to keep the system solvent, changes roundly rejected by educators. That talk went away as the stock market boomed in 2020 and TRS more than made up what it lost, topping $100 billion in assets last year.

However, Salzer noted that, as with any large fund tied to the stock market, what goes up always comes down, and that has been the case with the TRS fund as the markets tanked again this year.

The system reported it had $100.5 billion in assets in April 2021. Its position this April was $92.9 billion, or a decline of $7.6 billion. It fell $6.6 billion in value between March and April of this year and a “Bear Market” (stocks falling 20% or more from a recent high) could be around awhile.

With 2022 being an election year it’s all but certain nobody will raise the issue of making legislative changes – what with the teacher vote at stake – but it might be something to keep an eye on when lawmakers return in 2023 if the decline persists.


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