Trump inches up support for Perdue’s underdog gov bid

Former President Donald Trump is escalating his support for former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s uphill battle against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Trump will host a tele-rally for Perdue on Monday to kick off the three-week early voting period, and the former president might return to Georgia for a third in-person rally to attack Kemp before the May 24 primary.

Perdue will take all the help he can get from the former president. He trails the governor by a wide margin — 26 percentage points — in the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll and lags behind him in fundraising and endorsements.

And Kemp is taking every step he can to avoid an unpredictable June runoff that could further divide the GOP ahead of a November matchup against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

In the past few days, Kemp has celebrated the an endorsement from the National Rifle Association, rallied with law enforcement officers, approved an election measure sought by Trump loyalists and traveled to Perdue’s hometown to sign into law a sharp income tax cut.

And in recent weeks, he’s maneuvered to solidify his conservative support by signing into law an expansive gun rights measure and orchestrating a vote to install former Gov. Sonny Perdue — David Perdue’s first cousin — as the chancellor of the state’s higher education system.

Kemp has built his edge over Perdue despite the aggressive intervention from Trump. The former president staged a late March rally for Perdue, cut a TV ad promoting his endorsement and held a fundraiser at his Florida estate to help replenish the former senator’s coffers.

Trump’s PAC also recently spent $500,000 boosting Perdue’s campaign, and Trump-aligned outside groups booked roughly $2 million in airtime for ads. Perdue’s allies are seeking even more late help from Trump, whose PAC boasts more than $120 million.

The former president has blamed Kemp for his defeat in Georgia since he refused to call a special legislative session and declined to take other steps to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

Throughout his campaign, Perdue has promoted Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud and has more recently claimed that he also didn’t lose to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a 2021 Senate runoff.

The presidential election wasn’t stolen. Three separate tallies upheld Biden’s narrow victory, an audit of absentee ballot signatures in Cobb County found no cases of fraud, court challenges by Trump allies were quashed, and bipartisan officials — including Trump’s attorney general — confirmed the results.