David Perdue, the U.S. senator for a Georgia term who lost a runoff last month to Sen. Jon Ossoff, filed documents Monday night indicating he was planning a comeback effort – this time against the other new senator from Georgia, Raphael Warnock.
Mr Perdue, a former businessman who first ran for office as a foreigner and then became one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the Senate, has tabled documents to the Federal Election Commission to establish a “Perdue for Senate” campaign committee.
The move, first reported by Fox News, was seen as a first step in the Republican Party’s efforts to try to reclaim one of the Senate seats lost in the historic second-round election in Georgia on January 5.
Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff prevailed in this second round – not only the first time a Democrat had won a Georgia Senate seat since 2000, but also a victory that gave Democrats control of the Senate. The two parties each have 50 seats in the chamber, with Vice President Kamala Harris voting for the tiebreaker.
Mr Perdue’s loss to Mr Ossoff followed a bitter campaign that ended with Mr Perdue being fired from the track following exposure to the coronavirus. An appearance by Mr. Trump on the eve of the state election failed to garner sufficient Republican turnout, leaving questions as to whether he was depressed by Mr. Trump’s repeated allegations of fraud during the elections. elections in this country.
Mr Ossoff received 50.6% of the vote against 49.4% for Mr Perdue, who waited two days to concede, prompting speculation he could challenge the outcome.
Mr Warnock prevailed over Senator Kelly Loeffler in their second round, from 51% to 49%. Both were running in a special election for a six-year term; the winner of the 2022 Senate race will serve a full term.
Georgia was already poised to be one of the main focal points in the 2022 election, with a hotly contested gubernatorial race that could feature a rematch between incumbent Republican Brian Kemp and his 2018 Democratic opponent , Stacey Abrams. Ms Abrams narrowly lost that race, but continued to lead a voting rights organization that was crucial to registering and mobilizing the Democrats who helped make Georgia blue for President Biden and Mr Warnock and Mr Ossoff. Ms Abrams has not announced whether she will run for governor again.
Mr Trump has already made it clear that he plans to get involved in the Georgia election in 2022: he has strongly criticized Mr Kemp, as well as the secretary of state and state lieutenant governor, for failing to not support his bogus allegations of electoral fraud in Georgia, and wants them to lose if they run for re-election.
Given Mr. Perdue’s ties to Mr. Trump, it‘s possible the former president will be a campaigning presence for Mr. Perdue and against Mr. Kemp next year.
Still, it’s not entirely clear that a Republican Senate candidate should welcome future help from Mr. Trump.
Bill Crane, a Georgian political agent and commentator, said on Monday that the former president’s appearances on behalf of the two Republicans appeared to have worked against them in January – with depressed Republican participation in the two congressional districts where Mr. Trump served campaign.
Mr Crane, who has worked for Republican and Democratic candidates, said he would not be surprised if Mr Perdue ran against Mr Warnock given the tight results in his January race, adding that in order to win, Mr. Perdue should change his strategy.
“He would need to address occasionally to female, non-aligned, libertarian and more centrist voters, not just the grassroots of the Republican Party,” Crane said.
Working for Mr. Perdue is a significant war chest – about $ 5 million from his campaign remains available for a 2022 run, according to a federal election report.
Neither Mr. Warnock, who is completing a term left vacant by former Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, nor Mr. Ossoff’s offices immediately responded to messages seeking comment. Spokesmen for Mr. Perdue and the Georgia Republican Party were also not available.