One Man’s Opinion: Et Tu Perdue?

When discussing the birth and foundations of the modern Georgia Republican Party, names like State Senator Bob Bell, Paul Coverdell, and Johnny Isakson come to mind. In truth, former Governor and USDA Secretary, Sonny Perdue, also deserves much of the credit as his surprise win in 2002 was followed by a GOP takeover of the State Senate, and still later the State House, as well as the replacement of state agency department heads, further cementing the shift and benefits of that victory. Governor Perdue’s cousin, business executive, and entrepreneur David Perdue, would later run as an outsider for the U.S. Senate, trading in his bespoke suits for a well-worn jeans jacket on the campaign trail. And U.S. Senator Perdue would go on to two terms in the U.S. Senate, leading efforts to reduce taxes, cut spending, and roll back regulations on commerce and enterprise, as well as becoming a strong U.S. Senate ally of still later President Donald Trump.

Then in the spring of 2018, it would be both Perdues who would plug the candidacy of then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in the GOP gubernatorial Primary contest of that cycle. USDA Secretary Perdue reportedly urged Trump, at the close of a Cabinet meeting, to become involved in the Georgia Primary, endorsing Kemp. Senator Perdue seconded that suggestion, and Trump’s well-known Tweets soon followed, strongly urging Georgia GOP voters to support Kemp, who was then trailing the GOP’s front runner, longtime Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. The Trump endorsement, along with a 2nd Amendment supporters aimed TV ad, with Kemp toting a shotgun to meet with a daughter courting beau, would propel Kemp to a runoff victory.

The subsequent 2020 General Election has split Georgia’s GOP into several factions. The loudest of those believe that the Presidential contest in Georgia was stolen from Trump, followed by a wide array of other myths and enchantment tales. Senator David Perdue actually received MORE votes across Georgia than Trump in the General Election contest, but by the time of the runoff on January 5, 2022, nearly 400,000 identified GOP voters chose to sit on their hands and not participate in either contest, historically awarding both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats, and a 50/50 split in the U.S. Senate to the Democratic Party.

Within days after the General Election, Trump began efforts, which continue to this day, to overturn the results of the Georgia election. An audit, two recounts, one by hand...and a GBI hand review of 15,000 absentee ballot envelope signatures all found NO substantive proof of fraud, ballot tampering, or alteration of the results of the Georgia contest, which Trump lost by 11,700 votes.

Trump still declares himself the rightful winner of the Georgia election, as well as the White House. Trump acolytes, and supporters, in Georgia and elsewhere, have since condemned Governor Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan for ‘not doing enough,’ to scrutinize voting, or change the results with a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly. Kemp, Raffensperger, and Duncan rightly followed the law in Georgia, versus caving to a vocal GOP base, or what might have been at the time considered politically expedient, even if the election outcome remained unchanged.

Trump has been urging former Senator Perdue to now challenge his onetime friend and ally, Kemp in the upcoming GOP gubernatorial primary contest. Trump’s diatribes against Kemp filled Perdue’s ears during at least two golfing trips to Mar-a-Lago since January, and it would appear at this point, like an earworm on the second trip that tune has gnawed into his brain.

From reliable sources, Perdue is leaning in favor of a late entry in this field, likely after the holidays. IF you would like to see Georgia’s GOP days as the dominant or majority party come to an end, you should cheer Perdue’s entry into this contest. The party and its grassroots activists would become only further divided, internally adversarial and no matter who the nominee is, the GOP standard-bearer would have depleted funds and a reputation covered with political bruises.

So if Kemp falls, it more likely will come at internal party hands than external. If this GOP implants its own Trojan Horse into the Primary season, they will have none but their own to blame. Political dynasties seldom go quietly into the night, even when their fall is somewhat self-induced and epic. As Julius Caesar fell to his death, stabbed by a host of frenemies and supposed allies, his reported last words were, Et Tu Brute. Et tu Perdue?

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