Columnist Jay Bookman weighs in on former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s candidacy for governor. Perdue, who lost to now-Sen. Jon Ossoff in January, is the Trump-endorsed candidate in the GOP primary. Zach Gibson – Pool/Getty Images
Let’s say it straight:
Every Georgia Republican who votes for former Sen. David Perdue in next year’s gubernatorial primary is voting to strangle American democracy and replace it with an arrangement in which elections can be overturned on a whim, just because somebody says so. There is no other rationale for Perdue’s candidacy, no other reason for him to have launched a campaign against an incumbent governor of his own party.
That, and to try to placate the implacable Donald Trump.
That incumbent, Brian Kemp, has served for almost 20 years as a Republican state senator, a Republican secretary of state and now as a Republican governor. From a conservative Republican perspective, the only blemish on Kemp’s record in that time, the only plausible reason for a primary challenge, is Kemp’s refusal to take part in Trump’s conspiracy to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia based on false claims of fraud.
There is zero evidence such fraud occurred. It is a complete fabrication, no more real than Santa and flying reindeer, invented to give a thin sheen of legitimacy to an effort to silence the votes of American citizens and return a man to power whom voters had clearly rejected. And yet, like 10-year-olds who cling to the Santa myth long after they deep-down know better, Trump voters refuse to let reality intrude on their fantasy. They do it for the same reason too: They want the presents to keep coming.
Well, grow up, people. Santa Claus is a fun little fantasy for children, and Trump lost the election fair and square.
Last January, Perdue made clear that if he still had a vote in the U.S. Senate, he would have cast that vote to decertify the results of the Georgia election, in which Trump lost by almost 12,000 votes. In effect, Perdue would have used his power as a senator to void the 10 million votes cast by his fellow Georgians and substitute his own political preference for theirs.
Today, the entire basis of his new campaign is his eagerness to use the power of the governor’s office to do next time what Kemp would not do in 2020, which is to ignore Georgia law, tear up the Constitution and reinstall a loser in the White House against the will of the people. In a very real sense, Perdue’s candidacy for governor is a continuation of the coup attempt and insurrection that Trump launched on Nov. 4, and if it succeeds it will forever be a black mark on Georgia’s reputation.
Imagine an outcome next fall in which Perdue becomes governor, Burt Jones or Butch Miller is elected lieutenant governor and Jody Hice is elected as secretary of state. To their credit, the Republicans now in those positions – Kemp, Geoff Duncan and Brad Raffensperger – all defended Georgia voters last year when Trump tried to take away their voice. All three would be replaced by men who would be not just willing but publicly committed to do the opposite.
As senator, Perdue took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” yet he was willing to violate that oath on Trump’s behalf. As governor, Perdue would take a similar oath, promising to “preserve, protect, and defend … the Constitution of the United States,” and he has already made it clear that he would violate that pledge as well.
It’s up to you, Georgia. Decide wisely. This is a vote that you will have to justify to your children, to your grandchildren, to history and to your conscience.
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