Tuesday night, Governor Brian P. Kemp, beat former U.S. Senator David Perdue in a bitter primary fight to win the Republican nomination. Perdue, backed by former President Donald J. Trump could only produce a meek effort, trailing Kemp by a 4-to-1 margin with 8% of the vote counted.
The Associated Press called the race for Kemp at 8:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November 8th general election. David Perdue quickly conceded defeat shortly after the race was called.
The only question heading into the night was if Perdue had enough to force a runoff election.
Monday, in a last ditch effort, Trump phoned into a Perdue rally voicing support for his candidate. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence flew to Kennesaw to stand beside Kemp Monday night. Pence never mentioned Trump or Perdue during his speech.
“When you say yes to Gov. Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will send a deafening message all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future,” Pence said.
Kemp, 58, heads into the general election confident after a recent FOX News poll had him carrying 60% of the vote. During his March 10th qualifying speech, Kemp did not mention Perdue by name. However, the Governor believed he’s got what it takes to defeat Stacey Abrams for a second time.
“I’m focused on Stacey Abrams,” Kemp said. “We’ve been waiting for this day for three years. You know what we’re gonna have to overcome to win the nomination. We’re not taken for granted but our sights are focused on who the real opponent is going to be. We know the Democrats are going to line up behind her stating their case. Well, I’m the best candidate to beat her in November and conservatives across the state realize that.”
While Kemp remained squarely focused on Abrams, Trump’s hand-picked Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, cruised to victory in the Republican Senate Primary. Walker will face Democratic incumbent Raphael G. Warnock in November’s general election.
Meanwhile, Abrams secured the Democratic nomination after running unopposed during the primary.
The Georgia primary served as a proxy fight between Trump and Governor Kemp because the former president has been stewing over his 2020 defeat to President Joseph R. Biden for over a year. Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. Two months later, Jon Ossoff and Warnock won both of their Senate races. Trump believed Governor Kemp did not do enough to fight for him when the result hung in the balance. Trump’s conduct is currently under investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Georgia’s primary was the first election held under the new voting rules. Senate Bill 202 was dubbed the Election Integrity Act of 2021. According to the law, nobody other than poll workers are allowed to pass out food or water to voters within 150 feet of the building or within 25 feet of the polling line. Also, the earliest a voter can request a mail-in ballot will now be 11 weeks prior to election date as opposed to the initial 180 days. Plus, There is one dropbox for every 100,000 active voters. These drop boxes will be located inside early voting sites and will be open during early voting days and hours.
While Governor Kemp pledged it would make voting easier and harder for people to cheat, critics say it is an acute form of voter suppression. During the race, Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, championed the new laws citing the record turnout during the early voting period.
“It’s fantastic. What it shows is that it’s never been easier to vote in Georgia, but we have the appropriate guardrails, securities in place,” said Raffensperger. “When you have strong security that elevates people’s confidence in the process”