The Jolt: Perdue challenge could trigger “scorched earth” GOP battle against Kemp

U.S. Sen. David Perdue arrives for Vice President Mike Pence’s Defend the Majority Rally on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Augusta.  “Curtis Compton /”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

U.S. Sen. David Perdue arrives for Vice President Mike Pence’s Defend the Majority Rally on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Augusta. “Curtis Compton /”

Late Wednesday, one of our Insiders reported that former Sen. David Perdue is seriously considering a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Perdue is the type of candidate that Republican leaders are looking for these days: someone who has proven he can win statewide but who has also cultivated a tight relationship with former President Donald Trump that could earn his coveted endorsement. Trump has vowed to oppose Kemp over his refusal to overturn his election defeat, even saying he wished Stacey Abrams had won the 2018 election.

In recent weeks, Perdue has called donors and other allies to float the idea, according to eight people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters. Several of them said he’s “conflicted” about a run, while others say he’s leaning toward a challenge.

Perdue has kept quiet publicly about his plans, and he declined to comment. But he remains close to former President Donald Trump, who encouraged the former U.S. senator to run at a rally in Middle Georgia in September. Trump’s allies also recently leaked polls that show Perdue in a strong position.

The story included an on-the-record statement from Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell, who said a Perdue challenge would be a betrayal because the former senator pledged “personally” to support the governor’s reelection bid.

Privately, Kemp’s allies have used far stronger language, warning of a “scorched earth” campaign and a “fight to the finish” against Perdue if he enters the race. The subtext is that the governor won’t be scared out of running for a second term. It could be a particularly brutal affair.

Perdue has some baggage now, and that may be why he is “conflicted,” as his allies said. He lost the January runoffs against now-Sen. Jon Ossoff, as Republicans failed to energize Trump voters barraged by lies about a “rigged” election.

The steps he took to stay on Trump’s good side could come back to haunt him. That included indicating he would seek to block confirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory in Congress, even though he wouldn’t have been able to do so because of the timing of the runoff election.

Since that loss, Perdue has mostly stayed away from the spotlight. But that has started to change in recent weeks as he has begun to attend more grassroots events.


President Joe Biden is headed to the Capitol this morning to meet with Democrats and encourage them to support the framework of a social spending and climate change bill that came together in the wee hours of the morning.

His ask will be targeted to progressives like Georgia U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and Nikema Williams. Biden wants them to agree to vote today on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill with the promise that the larger spending package, we don’t have the final number yet but expect it to be in the $1.8 trillion range, has the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate.

The question is whether progressives will give Biden this win now. Many of them want a Senate vote on the $1.8 trillion legislation first, which is still days if not weeks away because although a framework appears to be in place there is still no legislative text.

Biden meets with Democrats at 9 a.m. and then will give remarks from the White House at 11:30 a.m. before departing to Europe for a climate change conference. Stay tuned.


With just six days to go until Election Day, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stood with local police union leaders and the national president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, David Holway, who was in town Wednesday to celebrate the organization’s support.

Our AJC colleague J.D. Capelouto was at the presser, where the union also presented a transcript of a call front-runner Felicia Moore had in late August with local union president Lt. Kevin Knapp. In it, Moore raised the possibility that the union could release a negative endorsement against Reed if they don’t proactively endorse anyone.

Moore said she would like to have the union’s endorsement, but that she was also polling to find out “how people feel about unions,” according to a copy of the transcript.

Holway said that showed she was “wishy-washy” on whether she wanted the union support, while Reed wasn’t.

“If you have someone who really doesn’t want the police’s support, in a moment of tension, they’ll make a decision that throws the police under the bus,” said Reed. He also held another press conference a day earlier criticizing Moore over an endorsement she received from a resident who made racist remarks online.

Moore said in a statement that as a Black woman “with family members who have been brutally beaten by the police, I recognize that policing is a complicated issue. What some heard as ‘wishy-washy’ was a frank reflection of the current state of the relationship between the police and our community; something I have a comprehensive plan to remedy.”


U.S. Rep. Jody Hice is identified as a member of a group of Trump-backed candidates who have joined forces with QAnon conspiracy theorists in hopes of winning offices that can influence state elections, according to a Vice news article.

The coalition’s leader is Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, and he talked about these plans during a recent right-wing conference. Hice, who is the Trump-endorsed candidate challenging incumbent secretary of state Brad Raffensperger in 2022, is listed as a member along with a handful of other conservatives running for office in Arizona, Michigan, California and Pennsylvania.

Marchant was light on details about exactly what form this “coalition” will take, not mentioning what legal structure it will have, or what its specific goals will be—past getting hard-line Trump acolytes into powerful positions to run the 2024 elections—or whether there will be serious money backing it.


POSTED: Election Day is next Tuesday, and smaller cities across the metro area will hold mayor’s races in addition to Atlanta’s.

The AJC’s Greg Bluestein and Ben Brasch wrote about the trend of progressive challengers throwing their hats into the ring for the nonpartisan races, even in typically more conservative suburbs:

Politicos, candidates and experts all agree that shifting demographics and backlash against national Republican politics have given Democrats a realistic chance to challenge incumbents in nonpartisan races in the ‘burbs.

In Sandy Springs, the veteran Republican operative who has served as mayor for two terms faces a challenge from an outspoken liberal. Democrats have effectively formed a team to compete in the wealthy north Fulton County town of Johns Creek. The party is fiercely competing to win a mayor’s race in Tucker and council posts in suburbs across the Northside.


Former President Donald Trump’s plan to swing by the World Series at Truist Park on Saturday may be his only trip this weekend.

Although he floated the idea of making an appearance in Arlington, Va. on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, Trump aides told Politico that Trump won’t make it to Virginia before Election Day.


Our D.C. colleague Jamie Dupree flags that a group of Democrats, including Georgia’s U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop and Carolyn Bourdeaux, has now written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raising their concerns over the new reporting requirements proposed by the Treasury Department for bank accounts with more than $600 on deposit.

The Democrats write that they agree with the goal of making sure Americans pay the taxes they owe, but they call the data that would be turned over to the Treasury “overly broad and raises serious privacy concerns.”

“A change of this magnitude deserves careful consideration by Congress,” they wrote.

House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, have already raised their strong objections to the low threshold for accounts that would be flagged for the Department to review.

Partially because of this widespread pushback from lawmakers, the idea looks to be off the table for now.


Speaking of Ferguson, the West Point Republican has been tapped by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy for a GOP roundtable today on the Democrats’ social services and climate change proposal mentioned above.

Ferguson is chief deputy whip for the House Republicans and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.


Even as Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr move forward with plans to sue the federal government over its COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the University of Georgia has announced it will require certain employees to be vaccinated under the requirement.

The Red & Black student newspaper has the details:

Certain University of Georgia employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, in accordance with federal law, according to an ArchNews email sent on Tuesday.

Employees covered by this policy include those who work on or in connection with a federal contract, or who work in a covered contractor workplace.

Executive Order 14042, signed by President Joe Biden on Sept. 9, said that most federal contractors, including employees at public universities, must adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.


This week marked the annual all-female Press vs. Congress softball game supporting people with breast cancer. U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath was spotted in the stands taking on the role of chief cheerleader for Team Congress.

“Who’s gonna win this game? Congress!” she cheered as she led a chant for her fellow elected officials.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz posted the video to her Twitter page.

McBath is a two-time breast cancer survivor, and Wasserman Schultz had her own serious fight against the disease in 2007.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams was also spotted at the game, and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde took a swing by the after-party.

The press team Bad News Babes won 5-1, but the score doesn’t tell the story of a game that was tied until the final inning and sealed with an ESPN-worthy catch. The game benefits the Young Survival Coalition and raised more than $508,000.


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