Perdue, by contrast, had less than $1 million in cash on hand in his last financial disclosure and has yet to report whether he’s pumped his own money into his campaign. His campaign has also not yet launched a significant new TV ad blitz.
Time is running short. Kemp leads Perdue by double-digits in recent polls despite Trump’s help. The former president staged a late March rally for the candidate, cut a TV ad promoting his endorsement and held a fundraiser at his Florida estate to help replenish his coffers.
And Kemp plans to tour the state over the next month signing into law a range of measures aimed at energizing conservative voters, such as the proposal he approved this week that allows Georgians to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
His allies are confident he can clear the 50-percent mark and avoid a June runoff against Perdue, though they also acknowledge Trump can quickly pour more money into the race.
Trump has vowed to defeat Kemp, who refused to heed his demands to overturn his election defeat. He wanted Kemp to call a special legislative session to reverse his defeat, and pressed him to refuse to certify the election results, something he was required by law to do.
The former president’s vendetta against Kemp, however, has mushroomed. He’s endorsed several little-known down-ticket candidates to oppose the governor’s allies, and said he’d rather see Democrat Stacey Abrams win in November than Kemp.
Both campaigns are watching closely whether Trump dips deeper into his political organization’s account, which now boasts more than $110 million. A spokesman wouldn’t divulge details, saying “we won’t be telegraphing our efforts to the media.”
After a smaller-than-typical rally in Georgia, Trump has tried to temper expectations by predicting that Kemp will be “hard to beat.” He told a conservative radio show host that he might return to Georgia for another event but “it’s a shame, it’s a shame -- not easy to beat a sitting governor. Just remember that.”
The infusion went to Get Georgia Right, a pro-Perdue PAC that’s led by Gregg Phillips. A Trump loyalist, Phillips also helms True the Vote, a Texas-based organization that unsuccessfully challenged the eligibility of 360,000 Georgia voters and pushed state investigators to pursue unsubstantiated claims of ballot harvesting.
Kemp’s campaign downplayed the impact of the cash, referring to Perdue’s remarks this week that questioned whether a state law enforcement agency has been allowed to “deteriorate” in recent years.
“David Perdue is going to need a lot more than $500,000 to distract from his unhinged rant attacking the Georgia State Patrol,” said Kemp aide Cody Hall.