Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue clashed over the results of the 2020 election during the state’s GOP governor’s debate Sunday night, blaming each other for Democratic gains in the last election cycle.
It marked the first primary debate between Perdue, whose most prominent supporter is former President Donald Trump, and Kemp, who the former President says betrayed him for refusing to help him overturn his defeat in 2020 and whom he has set out to dethrone.
While there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in any state during the 2020 election, Perdue returned to the subject – a central theme of his campaign – several times throughout the hourlong debate and argued that Kemp did not do enough to challenge the state’s election results.
Perdue was defeated by Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s Senate election, and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock won the special election for the state’s other Senate seat, giving Democrats a majority in the chamber. Their wins in the January 2021 runoffs, paired with President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the Peach State, made Georgia central to Republican efforts to challenge the election.
Trump has endorsed and vigorously supported Perdue in an attempt to get back at Kemp for refusing to help him overturn his defeat in 2020.
Kemp said in response to Perdue’s line of attack Sunday that he had no authority to challenge the election results, and he took repeated shots at Perdue’s loss to Ossoff. “I was secretary of state for eight years, and I don’t need to be lectured by someone who lost his last election,” he said.
The Georgia governor also defended himself as best positioned to defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in November, promising to make sure she is “never your governor and your next president.”
“There’s only person who’s beaten Stacey Abrams, and that’s me,” Kemp said, referring to his first campaign for governor in 2018 when he narrowly defeated Abrams. But Perdue remained focused on relitigating Kemp’s handling of the 2020 election.
“The only reason I’m not in the United States Senate is because you caved in and gave the elections to Stacey and to the liberal Democrats in 2020,” he said.
Perdue accused Kemp of passing the blame onto others and said that made him a “weak” leader. Kemp immediately returned the attack.
“Weak leaders blame everybody else for their own losses instead of blaming themselves,” he said.
Speaking to CNN following the debate, Perdue said he exposed a “weak governor.” Kemp, meanwhile, declined to answer CNN’s questions as he left the debate site at WSB-TV’s studio in midtown Atlanta.