Georgia Gov. Kemp Set to Face Stacey Abrams in Reelection Showdown Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (Getty Images)
By Jack Gournell | Tuesday, 24 May 2022 08:03 PM
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has won the Republican primary against challenger David Purdue, Decision Desk HQ projects, setting up a rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams in November.
Kemp beat Abrams four years ago, but drew the ire of former President Donald Trump in 2020 when he refused to go along with Trump's effort to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden.
Perdue, a former U.S. senator, shared Trump's opinion that the election was "rigged and stolen," opening two debates between the candidates with the claim. State election officials found no evidence of fraud after multiple reviews.
Trump conducted an in-person rally for Perdue, sent more than $3 million to two political action committees to pay for ads attacking Kemp on election issues, and kept up a steady stream of rhetorical fire against the incumbent. But Trump has not returned to Georgia since March, and Perdue's ads have been missing from Georgia television stations for much of the crucial early-voting period.
Kemp received late help from Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence.
More than 850,000 Georgians cast ballots during weeks of early in-person voting. New election rules passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year made mail-in absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes — forms of voting that were popular during the 2020 elections amid the coronavirus pandemic — a less attractive option, and they nosedived this year.
Abrams ran unapposed, setting up the rematch from 2018 that is likely to be one of the nation's most expensive and high-profile. She narrowly lost the governorship to Kemp in 2018 but became a leading national Democratic voice as a voting rights activist.
On Monday, Pence, appearing in suburban Atlanta to support Kemp, called the incumbent “one of the most successful Republican governors in America.”
Kemp has used the power of his incumbency to push a raft of bills through the legislature, signing measures that cut taxes, allowed people to carry concealed handguns without permits and let the state athletic association ban transgender girls from high school sports.
The governor also used bountiful state coffers to give pay raises and burnished his economic development record by announcing two large electric vehicle factories.
Republicans rallied to Kemp's side: He was endorsed by powerful GOP figures including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston.
Kemp's focus on Georgia issues won over Will Parbhoo, a 22-year-old dental assistant.
“I’m not really a Trumper,” Parbhoo said. “I didn’t like him to begin with. With all the election stuff, I was like, ‘Dude, move on.’"
Perdue scrambled for contributions, hitting Kemp on crime and for luring the Rivian Automotive plant to an area east of Atlanta over the objections of many residents.
The Associated Press contributed.