In September 2021 former Senator David Perdue grunted and muttered about running. for governor of Georgia. During the dinner with old friend on Sea island, he pulled out out your iPhone and showed list of calls he received from Donald J. Trump, lobbying him to take the plunge.
“He said Trump called him all the time,” said Martha Zoller, former Mr Purdue’s assistant who now hosts talk radio show in Gainesville, Georgia. “He showed me on his phone made those numerous recent calls and said they were from the president.”
Miss Zoller and Legion of Other former Assistants and advisers to Purdue told former senator that the flight was bad idea. He listened to Mr. Trump instead.
Now Mr Perdue is watching down en epic defeat by hand of Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican accused by Trump for his defeat in 2020 more than any other person. Purdue campaign ends race short on cash, with Without advertising on television and a candidate that even his supporters call dull and distracted.
“Perdue thought Trump was a magic wand,” said Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Trump ally, who was among highest-profile of Georgia’s supporters. “Looking back, hard understand the campaign and it’s definitely not the one campaign those of us who we for he was expected.”
The Coming Fall of Mr Perdue in primaries on tuesday for governor looms as biggest electoral setback for Mr Trump after his own defeat in elections 2020. Perhaps there is no competition in which former the president did more try to influence the result. Mr. Trump hired, promoted and cleared the field for his ally, attacking Mr. Kemp, recording television commercials, and giving $2.64 million to groups helping Mr. Purdue is by far the largest amount he has ever invested. in another politician.
However race revealed the limits of Mr. Trump’s influence, especially against entrenched Republican officials.
Mr Perdue’s failures were not just of his own manufacture. He was beaten by the quick-witted incumbent in Mr. Kemp who exploited the forces of his office cut off off Mr. Perdue from allies, including Mr. Perdue’s cousin Sonny, former governor and trump farming secretary whom Mr. Kemp’s allies appointed chancellor of university system of Georgia.
Mr. Kemp also appeared to punish those who crossed it: one seat in Congress was drawn exclude home of the candidate, whose father is a Perdue supporter, has publicly criticized the governor.
And he offered gifts to voters, including a tax on gas. holiday it’s comfortable runs to end of May, just past basic.
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Thursday when Mr. Perdue was campaigning outside Semper Fi Bar & Grille in Woodstock, Georgia, he didn’t do magic up a path to victory, but bargaining over scale of his widely anticipated defeat after a Fox News poll showed that he down 32 percent points.
“Damn it, I don’t down thirty pointsinsisted Mr Perdue, whose campaign did not respond to inquiries for comment for This article. “We can not win Tuesday, he added”but I guarantee, damn it, we won’t down thirty points”.
key threshold on Tuesday 50 percent: Mr. Kemp must win absolute majority in field of five candidates avoid a one-on-one stock in June.
story of Mr Perdue’s efforts are less one of political collapse and more of a failure run. From the moment he announced his candidacy in December, Mr. Perdue never showed the same will to win as he did in his first Senate race in 2014.
His business for Mr. Kemp’s expulsion has always been largely based on support from former the president. said Mr. Perdue. campaign introduction that the governor has so alienated the partyTrump loyalists that they won’t rally around Mr. Kemp against Stacey Abrams, presumptive Democratic nominee and leading villain for Republicans.
But Mr Perdue, 72, rich former Executive Director of Dollar General has never come close to $3.8 million. of his own money he introduced to his 2014 Senate. race. He invested just $500,000 in his bet for governor.
That’s less than he and his wife spent last year for area on the waterfront on secluded peninsula on picturesque island of St. Simons, purchase made shortly after his second defeat at the hands of of then-33-yearis an old Democrat who handed over control of the Senate to the Democrats. Permission to build almost 12,000 square feet mansion worth approximately $5 million on land, includingover 625 feet of lake façade,” according to the list, was provided two weeks after he announced his candidacy, records show.
Mr Trump simultaneously invested heavily in Mr Purdue, with his $2.64 million and sought avoid blame because the candidate stumbled while telling The New York Times in april that news mediafocus”should be on endorsements – not David Purdue oneto measure its impact.
Mr Trump last rally in Georgia has come in the end of March. He did not return as Purdue’s allies had hoped. instead holding a conference call for supporters in beginning of May.
“I with david all way because Brian Kemp was the WORST governor in the country on Election integrity! Mr Trump insisted on Friday on its messaging platform Truth Social.
Mr Purdue, like candidates for governor in Idaho and Nebraska learned this month that Trump’s support alone does not guarantee support of Trump voters or Trump donors.
“Trump’s approval is very important, but it’s just an endorsement,” he said. former Rep. Jack Kingston, who lost the 2014 Senate Primary to Mr Purdue and is former Trump advisor. “This is not an army of infrastructure and door knockers way this would be the case if you had the Sierra Club, the NRA or the AFL-CIO.”
The proximity between Kemp’s and Purdue’s camps was particularly sharp. on Friday.
Mr Kemp was outside Savannah, announcing that Hyundai will invest $5.5 billion. in electric battery and vehicle manufacturer, one of largest economic development projects in Georgia history. There was a champagne toast.
Mr. Perdue was nearby, holding an endorsement. event with Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee who makes his own return attempt in house race in Alaska.
“I’d rather stand on scene announcing 7500 jobs than standing next Sarah Palin,” said Mr. Kemp’s Lieutenant Governor Jeff Duncan, a vocal critic of Trump. who decided not run for re-elect it year.
Randy Evans, Perdue supporter who served as ambassador to Luxembourg in The Trump administration said Kemp’s operation was ruthless. in using what he called “intimidating” abilities of governorship.
Mr Evans sonJake, running for Congress in suburb of Atlanta. When Kemp’s supporters Republican lawmakers drew new lines in redistricting, the younger Mr. Evans suddenly drawn out of district in which he planned run.
“They cut off a piece the size of of your little finger, elder Mr Evans said. “Jake had to move, buy a new house”.
Mr Kemp, 58, used powers of position in other important ways. He signed a tax refund measure of up up to 500 dollars for married couples, then announced on On May 11, after early voting began, these checks were in Mail. He appealed to rural Georgians with a salary increase for teachers, and delighted conservatives by signing a sweeping law restricting voting access gun rights and ban school masks.
Mr Perdue’s efforts may seem weak in comparison. In March, he attacked Mr. Kemp. for hiring an electrician truck manufacturer to open a factory in rural Georgia – creating thousands of jobs because George Soros, a prominent Democratic donor, recently invested in company.
The Kemp-Perdue competition was intense in drama of personal betrayal.
Mr Kemp spent weeks campaigning with Mr. Perdue before the senator’s defeat in by-elections to the Senate in January 2021. By then, Mr. Kemp had infuriated Mr. Trump by defending the legitimacy of President of Georgia results.
Last spring, Mr. Kemp’s aides reported, Mr. Perdue assured Mr. Kemp that he had no intention of run for governor. In June of that year, Mr. Perdue introduced the governor to the Georgia Republican Party’s annual convention.
But Mr. Kemp cleverly already started the process of installation of Sonny Perdue, popular former governor, to run Georgia State Universities – an appointment that actually placed him on sides. (Sonny Perdue, via representative, declined to comment.)
Mr. Kemp also secured loyalty and fundraising opportunities in advance of Alec Poitevin, businessman from South Georgia who served campaign chairman for David Purdue and Sonny Purdue’s Senate Campaigns for governor – one of in many ways Operation Kemp out Mr Perdue financially.
Mr. Poitevin said he was among of longtime supporters of David Purdue who convinced him not run.
“I didn’t think it was serious,” Mr. Poitevin said. “I expressed fact that I didn’t agree with this is what i thought the governor did great job and well-deserved re-election.
Shunned by the state’s political establishment, Mr. Perdue tried to present himself as a political outsider: “I’ve been an outsider since I got into politics,” he said on Thursday – but it’s a hard case for a former the senator boasts of his support from former the president.
Even Mr. Trump’s $2.64 million infusion was swamped by $5.2 million. in paid television advertising for Republican Governors Association to help Mr. Kemp.
For all of Mr. Trump attacks on Mr. Kemp, the governor never inflicted back. Mr Kemp’s advisers believe discipline helped get the permit for even the most devoted supporters of Trump adhere to with governor.
Mr Perdue’s campaign, meanwhile, was focused by a laser on lies about 2020 – repeating Mr. Trump’s lies and blaming Mr. Kemp for Biden’s presidential election.
Mr Evans, former ambassador who in in early 2021, they tried to conclude a peace agreement between Trump and Kemp, for Mr Perdue, however, said he doesn’t see much effort in defining a distinctive platform.
“As for the existence that existed independently of Trump, I really haven’t seen this materialize,” Mr. Evans said.
Mr. Kemp’s lieutenant governor, Mr. Duncan, summed up the arc of Purdue’s candidacy.
“David Purdue made a bad bet six months ago when he jumped in in race and thought, “Because Donald Trump likes me, I’m going to winsaid Mr Duncan. “He argued wrong”.
Maya King made a report. Kirsten Noyes contributed research.