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David Perdue

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Senator David Perdue plans to challenge Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in next year's election, U.S. media reported on Sunday, opening a new Republican Party rift in a battleground state that handed Democrats their current U.S. Senate majority.

Perdue intends to make his announcement in a video on Monday and file his campaign paper work at the same time, Politico and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing unnamed sources briefed on his plans.

Neither Perdue nor the Georgia Republican Party were immediately available to comment.

The reports said Perdue, a wealthy businessman, was recruited to run for governor by former President Donald Trump, after Kemp refused to help block November 2020 election results in the state that contributed to Democrat Joe Biden winning the presidency.

Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday that she would run for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination in Georgia, her second bid for the office.

Trump's false claims about widespread election fraud have been blamed for dividing Georgia Republicans ahead of a pair of U.S. Senate run-off elections last January, in which Perdue was defeated by Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff. Former Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler also lost to Democrat Raphael Warnock in the run-offs.

Responding to the Sunday media reports, a Kemp campaign spokesman blasted Perdue as "the man who lost Republicans the United States Senate."

"Governor Kemp has a proven track record of fighting the radical left to put hardworking Georgians first," Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

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