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David Perdue, Trump’s Sacrificial Lamb

He’s killing his career in honor of Trump’s election grievances.
April 4, 2022
David Perdue, Trump’s Sacrificial Lamb
Former U.S. senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue speaks at a campaign event on February 1, 2022 in Dalton, Georgia. Purdue kicked off his campaign, in which he will first face incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in the May primary, the winner of which will face likely Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, speaking on teacher pay and law enforcement. The Perdue campaign aired a video endorsement by former President Donald Trump at the event. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

The thing about sacrificial lambs is that they can only be sacrificed once. What makes David Perdue’s political career unique is that, in honor of Donald Trump’s 2020 election grievances, Perdue is killing it twice.

The former Reebok and Dollar General CEO who in his winning 2014 Senate campaign presented himself as a successful businessman who would clean up Washington is no more. By the end of his losing runoff campaign in January 2021, Perdue was reduced to hobbling along with Trump’s “Stop the Steal” efforts that demoralized the very voters he needed to turn out. As a consolation, Trump then recruited Perdue to run as his vengeance candidate in next month’s GOP primary against Georgia’s sitting governor, Brian Kemp, whom Trump blames for not “finding the votes” to snatch the state’s sixteen electoral votes from Joe Biden.

What has Trump’s backing gotten Perdue? Today, the former senator is down double-digits in the polls, lagging sorely behind in fundraising and uttering the same kind of deranged threats that come out of the mouths of people like Sidney Powell.

Perdue seems to think his only hope of winning is to double down on the same strategy that doomed his Senate re-election.

At that time, Perdue was happy to go along with Trump’s “Stop the Steal” fantasies. He said he supported efforts to object to Biden’s Electoral College votes on Jan. 6th. He called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign.

Now, he’s finding ways to be more extreme on the issue of the 2020 election.

Shortly after declaring his candidacy for governor, Perdue made it clear he would not have, as Kemp did, certified the 2020 election for Biden. Perdue said:

Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated, and that’s all we were asking for.

His big new idea? Claiming his race was stolen, too.

Perdue recently appeared on a conservative talk radio show hosted by Brian Pritchard and said, “Most people in Georgia know that something untoward happened in November 2020. I’ll just say it, Brian. In my election and the president’s election, they were stolen. The evidence is compelling now.”

Soon after, Trump appeared at a Georgia rally as part of a “rescue mission” to invigorate Perdue’s campaign. Perdue reiterated his pitch on stage: “Let me be very clear. Very clear. In the state of Georgia, thanks to Brian Kemp, our elections in 2020 were absolutely stolen!”

Perdue said Kemp “refused to fight” and “sold us out.” Furthering his attacks on Kemp, Perdue said Kemp “kicked sand in the face of the president the last two years and said ‘no’ every time the president asked him anything.”

But that didn’t get the crowd excited. Perdue went further: “I’m fighting right now to find out what happened in 2020 and make sure that those people responsible for that fraud in 2020 go to jail!”

Finally, the crowd started cheering a little:

“Lock him up!” the crowd cheered about Gov. Kemp. Perdue turned to face them and smiled in return. They clapped again when he promised to “get rid of those cursed Dominion machines.” Those were his only remarks that got any traction.

Trump didn’t seem very impressed with Perdue’s performance and is now downplaying expectations for Perdue’s candidacy.

Another telling sign: Other Georgia candidates whom Trump has endorsed, including the insanely popular Herschel Walker, are staying away from Perdue. As CNN noted:

None of Trump’s preferred candidates in three of the highest-profile statewide races in Georgia—Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate, Burt Jones for lieutenant governor and Jody Hice for secretary of state—have endorsed Perdue. And in their remarks at a Trump rally in Georgia on Saturday, none of them mentioned the gubernatorial primary.

While it’s probably too early to declare Perdue a dead man walking, he is, strangely enough, talking about his “dead body” a lot.

For example: “My vision for Georgia is this: over my dead body would I ever, ever turn an election process over to Stacey Abrams or any of that woke mob ever again.”

And: “Over my dead body will we ever turn over an election to any of the left that we saw happening in 2020.”

But how does Perdue expect his strategy to play out? Let’s consider the two possible outcomes. (Spoiler: Neither scenario involves much party unity in the general election.)

One, Perdue turns it around by May 24 and wins the primary. But are Kemp voters then going to rally to Perdue’s side after Perdue threatened to jail Georgians, like Kemp, involved in certifying the election for Biden? Will everyone kiss and make up for the general after that? Stranger things have happened but the fractious primary at least tips the scales in favor of the Democrats.

Two, Kemp wins the primary. And if that happens, Trump vowed that his voters will stay away from the polls. At the Georgia rally, Trump said Perdue was “the only candidate” who could beat Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams because “Trump voters, MAGA, Trump voters, will not go out and vote for Kemp, they’re not gonna vote.”

Trump was even willing to stake Walker’s candidacy on it:

If Kemp runs, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted because Republicans that happen to like Donald Trump, MAGA Republicans, are not going to go and vote for this guy, Kemp.

Another strategy that tips the scales in favor of Democrats. Bigly.

And just like that, it suddenly feels like 2020 in Georgia all over again—which, according to Perdue, will only happen over his “dead body.”

Maybe Perdue should stop offering himself up like that.

Sacrificing two campaigns, two cycles in a row, for Trump’s election lies ought to be enough.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.