The Jolt: Trump to stump remotely for Perdue-- as grand jury investigating him begins

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: File

Credit: File

Donald Trump’s name hardly came up during Sunday night’s Republican governor’s debate (we’ve got a full write up on that below). But David Perdue is still banking on his help in his challenge to sitting Gov. Brian Kemp as early voting gets underway.

The former president is holding a tele-rally on Monday night to urge his supporters to punish Kemp and vote for Perdue.

But Trump is also giving some of Perdue’s supporters reason to believe he’s phoning it in, in more ways than one. For at least the third time in recent days, Trump seemed to downplay Perdue’s chances, this time in an interview with The New York Times.

“Remember, you know, my record is unblemished,” Trump told The Times in an interview that was published on Friday. “The real story should be on the endorsements — not the David Perdue one — and, by the way, no race is over.”

Trump’s record for endorsements, of course, is not unblemished.

The former president’s virtual appearance for Perdue comes on the same day a rare Fulton County special grand jury will be seated as a part of the investigation into Trump on possible election interference charges related to the 2020 election.

Trump infamously called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January of 2021 and told the Georgian and his team, “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes,” to overturn the state’s election results.

He has since nursed a vendetta against both Raffensperger and Kemp because of their refusal to go beyond the state’s legal recount and signature audit processes to help him change the election outcome. He then recruited Perdue and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice in an effort to oust Kemp and Raffensperger in their next elections.

Our colleagues Tamar Hallerman and Ben Brasch have the details on what’s ahead for the members of the Fulton jury today, as well as the approach to it all by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.


The third debate for governor, hosted Sunday by the Atlanta Press Club, shifted the conversation away from the 2020 election fraud lies, which U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Gov. Brian Kemp sparred over for nearly an hour in the previous two debates.

Instead, the debate’s panelists and moderator asked no questions about the last election. Instead, sections of the debate were devoted to public education, healthcare and the state’s economy.

Perdue invoked his opposition to the $5 billion Rivian electric vehicle plant often; Kemp promised it would be a catalyst for a jobs surge. The contenders fielded questions about teacher retention, DeKalb’s school crisis and tax policy.

It was also the first and only debate to include the three other Republicans running in May-- Tom Williams, Catherine Davis, and Kandiss Taylor, who all tried to make the most of the spotlight.

Williams promoted election falsehoods and Davis wouldn’t commit to backing Kemp or Perdue if they won the GOP nod. She falsely claimed that “Christians are the only people in our state attacked for our faith.”

But the head-turner was Taylor, who also ran for U.S. Senate two years ago.

Now running on a motto of “Jesus, Guns and Babies,” Taylor repeatedly lied about President Joe Biden and the public education system. She was largely ignored by Kemp and Perdue, whom she called “twin RINOs.”

Here’s a sample:

While the two main rivals – and three other longshots – still feuded over former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory about a “rigged” election, the 2020 talk was diluted by questions on issues that voters will face ahead in 2022.


The Atlanta Press Club’s Loudermilk Young Debate series also included four congressional primary debates on Sunday. Some highlights:

  • Republican candidates in the 6th, including attorney Jake Evans and physician Rich McCormick, mainly squabbled over their conservative credentials;
  • In the debate for open seat in the 10th, former Democrat Vernon Jones and trucking company owner Mike Collins traded barbs;
  • The Republican challengers in the 14th District all explained why they would be the better alternative to U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was also at the debate;
  • The three Democrats in the 7th District race, including incumbent U.S. Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath, clashed over whether living in the district makes a person best qualified to represent it.


More Press Club debates are ahead, including candidates for Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner Monday, and Schools Superintendent, Lieutenant Governor, and U.S. Senate Tuesday.

The one candidate you won’t see in the debates this week is Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, the only major candidate (or minor candidate for that matter) this year to refuse to debate his primary rivals.


When Florida’s U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz attacked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week over leaked audio of him disparaging Donald Trump, it only seemed a matter of time until Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene followed suit.

But at Sunday’s Atlanta Press Club debate, Greene offered a major clue why she’s keeping tight-lipped.

She said McCarthy has promised to restore the committee assignments that were stripped after details emerged of her history of endorsing violence against fellow House members and law enforcement officers.

“What I look forward to do is, when we take back the House, is I will have great committee assignments,” Greene said. “Kevin McCarthy and leadership have already promised them to me, and we look forward to holding Democrats accountable for all the corruption and horrible things they’ve done in our country.”

Tia Mitchell has a full write up.


The three-week early in-person voting period begins today for the May 24 primary elections. Here’s your rundown on all the top races up for grabs.

You can find early voting locations and hours for your county and review sample ballots by visiting Georgia’s My Voter Page at Early voting continues through May 20.

Our colleague Mark Niesse has more on how recent changes to Georgia’s election laws affect both early voting, voting absentee and using drop boxes.

AJC subscribers received our Primary Election Voting Guide in Sunday’s ePaper, but you can also visit this page for links to much of our recent coverage.


Keep an eye open at the polls for candidates taking the chance to vote for themselves.

We hear former U.S. Sen. David Perdue plans to cast his vote this morning at his home precinct on St. Simons Island. He’ll then hit the road for a week of campaigning that will include no less than 20 stops around the state.


Also on the trail Monday will be U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who will be stumping literally from sun up to sun down. She’s got nine stops planned across North Georgia as she campaigns for her first reelection in the 14th Congressional District.


Today in Washington:

  • The House is out of session, although we are keeping our ears to the ground about any Georgia members joining congressional delegations for trips overseas. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several Democratic leaders made a secret trip to Ukraine over the weekend.
  • The Senate is in session and mainly focused on nominations, although Democrats are still somewhat limited in the nominations they can consider until all members and Vice President Kamala Harris return from recent COVID-19 diagnoses.


Lucy McBath has released a third campaign ad, this one narrated by former Gwinnett School Board Chair Everton Blair and Shannon, a Gwinnett teacher. The “Fighter” ad is running on broadcast stations in Metro Atlanta.


The federal government on Friday put a halt to Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to block Georgians from shopping for health insurance coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Our colleague Ariel Hart reported that former President Donald Trump’s administration approved Kemp’s plan to divert Georgians visiting to individual insurance companies or private brokers when open enrollment begins in the fall. But the Biden administration told Kemp on Friday that would be against the rules.

Both Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux took credit for the decision, although Kemp’s plan seemed destined for the trash bin once Biden took office.

“After months of effort, I’m glad the Administration is heeding my call to reverse course on this misguided decision that would undoubtedly lead to fewer Georgians having less access to free and affordable health care,” Warnock said in a statement.

Bourdeaux’s statement said, in part: “Georgia Republicans’ attempts to stop individuals from using would have greatly weakened the ACA and made it more difficult to find and purchase quality insurance. I am very pleased the Administration honored my request and stood up for Georgia families.”


The U.S. Senate last week confirmed Ryan Buchanan as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Buchanan had been recommended to the White House by Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Buchanan had served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta since 2013 and was deputy chief of the office’s Violent Crime and National Security division. He succeeds former U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak, who stepped down abruptly in January 2021 while under pressure from allies of then-President Donald Trump to investigate false claims of election fraud.


In endorsement news: Emily’s List, which supports Democratic, pro-choice women seeking office, is backing the following candidates for the Georgia General Assembly:

  • Luisa Wakeman, Senate District 6;
  • Lisa Campbell, House District 35;
  • Park Cannon, House District 58; and
  • Ruwa Romman, House District 97.


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