Has David Perdue thrown in the towel against Brian Kemp?

Credit Perdue for Senate

I saw this Erick Erickson tweet earlier and figured he must be exaggerating. He’s a Kemp guy, after all. Of course he wants people to believe Perdue is collapsing short of the finish line.

Then I stumbled across this piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Uh, Perdue really *does* seem to be slowing down with a week to go instead of running hard through the tape. Why would he do that?

Relatedly, given how invested Trump is in beating Kemp, why isn’t he barnstorming across Georgia this week with Perdue to try to drum up some last-second MAGA support for his guy?

No one knows. But we can guess.

With just a week until the May 24 primary, Perdue is largely staying out of sight in the final stretch of his longshot bid to force Gov. Brian Kemp into a runoff.

The former U.S. senator had only one public event over the weekend, while Kemp grinded out a five-stop tour with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

And while Kemp plans a swing through north Georgia today with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Perdue has a more limited schedule…

Perdue’s commercials are absent from the airwaves, too, with no significant ad buys on TV or radio. Help from outside groups has all but dried up, too, in the final days of the campaign.

He has just three public events scheduled this week although his campaign told the AJC he plans to add more. Kemp has … 16 events booked, the final one of which will be a pre-victory rally with Donald Trump’s former running mate.

While Perdue’s off today doing God knows what, Kemp is touring the state with Chris Christie:

“When you’re cruising to Victory Island, you find lots of folks wash up on shore,” said one Republican operative to the AJC. Trump is watching from afar, unhappily:

Seems “low energy” to me. If he cares that much about the race, why hasn’t he gotten off the golf course and said all of that at a rally in Atlanta?

There may be a simple explanation for why Perdue has all but given up doing live events. His campaign might be broke:

Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue raised only $1.7 million in a crucial three-month period ahead of the May 24 primary, a fundraising deficit that compounds the growing challenges facing his Donald Trump-backed campaign to oust Gov. Brian Kemp.

Perdue, who reported a net worth of roughly $50 million in his financial disclosure, also disclosed he stroked himself a $500,000 check for his campaign for governor. He has about $900,000 in his account — less than a tenth of what’s left in Kemp’s coffers.

That was published eight days ago. Who knows how much is left in his coffers now. Further evidence that he’s feeling a financial crunch is the fact that, according to his campaign, he did no less than seven television interviews yesterday. If you can’t afford to stage rallies, you’ll take whatever face time with the public you can get. That means making yourself available to news channels for so-called “earned media.” Looks like that’s what Perdue is (mostly) stuck with this final week.

“But wait,” you say, “he’s worth $50 million. Why not cut his campaign a check for $5 million to give himself every last chance of staging a comeback over this final week?”

Uh, because he’s going to lose and he knows it. That’s the true significance of Perdue scaling back events and Trump not camping out in Georgia before the primary. If this were a 50/50 race, a last-second burst of money and energy to try to nose past Kemp would be worth it. As it is, Kemp led by 21 points in the RCP average the last time a public poll of Georgia appeared a few weeks ago. It may well be that his lead has widened since then in the internal polling given how he’s pouring it on with campaign rallies during the final week while Perdue is hanging back.

If Trump knows that Kemp is about to win this race without a runoff, the last thing he’d want to do is spend any more of his own political capital by campaigning there extensively. It’ll speak volumes if he doesn’t hold one last rally for Perdue sometime this coming weekend or on Monday night.

Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson recently held a focus group with Georgia Republicans to try to suss out why Trump’s endorsement magic hasn’t worked there. He dragged J.D. Vance over the finish line in Ohio and dragged Mehmet Oz to the top of the polls in Pennsylvania. But Perdue never caught on. Why? Bottom line: Kemp has a solid enough record as governor that voters in Georgia just couldn’t get motivated to replace him.

Kimberly: I did vote for him the last time, and I will vote for him again. I think he’s done a great job handling Georgia through Covid. He’s done a great job with our economy. I hate that our primary is going to be split probably between him and Perdue. I think that’s just going to hurt us in the long run. But we’ll see what happens.

Brandon: Well I voted for Kemp last time. And I felt like he kept most of his campaign promises. And he didn’t let Trump bully him. He’s going to get my vote again for that reason.

Don’t worry, MAGA fans. Trump will have his chance for revenge in 2026, when Kemp challenges Jon Ossoff for his Senate seat and Trump tries to sabotage him in the primary again even though Kemp will certainly be the strongest hand politically that the GOP can play in the general election. 45 won’t rest until that seat belongs to Democrats in perpetuity.

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David Strom 4:30 PM | May 28, 2024