In a March 12 radio interview, former senator David Perdue, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia's Republican gubernatorial primary, suggested that his opponent had orchestrated a "cover-up" of election fraud in the state after former President Donald Trump's 2020 loss.
"You know, I don't have the evidence to prove this, but it smacks of a cover-up this past year," Perdue told WMLB host Beth Beskin in the interview. "The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state, all four have closed ranks around the fact that they're claiming that we had a clean election."
Perdue first hinted that he thought Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were involved in an election-related conspiracy in January, saying in another radio interview that the two Republicans were "sitting on" proof of voter fraud in Georgia's 2020 election.
Perdue, who received Trump's endorsement the day he announced his campaign, has previously attacked Kemp on local radio, blaming his opponent for Trump's loss in the state. But his latest comments, which accuse not only Raffensperger and Kemp, but state Attorney General Chris Carr and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan of systemically concealing evidence of voter fraud, are the most inflammatory he has made so far about the 2020 election.
On Jan. 2, 2021, Trump called Raffensperger and told him to "find 11,780 votes" to overcome President Joe Biden's margin of victory in the state. The Georgia elections official refused to comply with Trump's request. In his book published last November, Raffensberger wrote that he felt the phone call from the former president — which is now the subject of a criminal investigation — "was a threat." Trump responded by backing Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) in a well-funded primary challenge to Raffensberger.
Both Perdue and Hice have promoted the fiction that Trump lost the 2020 election because of systemic voter fraud. Perdue, for his part, decided to run for the seat only after the former president spent months actively recruiting him to run against Kemp, who refused to overturn the 2020 election for Trump.
In December 2020, Trump called and reportedly "chewed out" Kemp while pressuring him to get Georgia's state legislature to overturn the election results. "Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing," Trump later told his supporters at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia. "So far we haven't been able to find the people in Georgia willing to do the right thing."
Kemp has since weathered a barrage of scathing attacks from the former president, who is still viewed favorably by many Georgia Republicans.
One of the clearest examples of the influence Trump still holds over state Republicans came at last year's party convention when the governor was booed during his speech, sometimes loudly enough to nearly drown out his voice, and heckled over his certification of Biden's 2020 victory.
Despite Trump's attempts to unseat Kemp, Kemp has not publicly rejected the former president's election conspiracies theories and offered him praise earlier this year.
Last year, Kemp signed S.B. 202, a restrictive election law that restricted absentee voting and added new voter identification requirements. Biden called the legislation "Jim Crow in the 21st century."
After signing the bill, which Kemp reportedly saw as a way to restore his damaged standing among Trump supporters, the governor gestured in the direction of election-related conspiracies, saying in a statement that "President Biden, the left, and the national media are determined to destroy the sanctity and security of the ballot box."
Even with Trump's endorsement, Perdue trails Kemp by a relatively large margin. In the most recently conducted poll of Republican primary voters, 39% said they would vote for Perdue, while 50% said they would vote for Kemp.
Perdue's fundraising has also lagged his opponent's despite an extensive donor network which allowed him to raise impressive sums during his two campaigns for U.S. Senate.
The Georgia primary is an important test of Trump's influence over the Republican Party. The Republican former president hosted a fundraiser for Perdue on Wednesday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. A photo opportunity with the two Republicans reportedly cost attendees $24,200.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent