Former U.S. senator from Georgia and current Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue is not a very good closer. In the 2021 general-election runoff, in which he lost his U.S. Senate seat and Republicans lost control of the Senate entirely, Perdue sort of disappeared down the home stretch — though in part that was because he was quarantined for exposure to COVID-19.
Now, at the conclusion of his almost-certain-to-fail primary challenge to incumbent governor Brian Kemp, Perdue should have probably just stayed at home. Instead, on Monday he disgraced himself by making racist comments about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution set the scene:
His final major campaign stop before Tuesday’s primary was not a mega-rally in exurban Georgia or a gathering with his closest friends and supporters in his middle Georgia hometown.
Instead, it was a suburban Wild Wing Cafe in Dunwoody where he piggybacked off far-right radio host John Fredericks’ tour promoting Donald Trump’s fake election conspiracies.
In an onstage interview with Fredericks, Perdue accused Abrams, who is Black, of “demeaning her own race.” He also suggested she is not a true Georgian, though she’s lived in the state since 1989: “Hey, she ain’t from here. Let her go back to where she came from. She doesn’t like it here.”
Perdue was weighing in on a spat between Abrams and Kemp. Abrams recently responded to Kemp’s routine conservative recitation of Georgia as the nation’s top place to do business with the routine progressive point that corporate profits aside, Georgia’s quality of life isn’t so great (though she probably went too far by saying Georgia was “the worst state” to live in).
“I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live,” Abrams said. “When you’re No. 48 for mental health, when you’re No. 1 for maternal mortality, when you have an incarceration rate that’s on the rise and wages that are on the decline, then you are not the No. 1 place to live.”
Instead of just blasting Abrams for inadequate boosterism, Perdue conflated this comment with a statement she made on the 2018 campaign trail.
“People shouldn’t have to go into agriculture or hospitality to make a living in Georgia,” Abrams said. “Why not create renewable-energy jobs? Because I’m going to tell y’all a secret: Climate change is real.”
Perdue’s response went over the brink into racist madness. “When she told Black farmers, ‘You don’t need to be on the farm,’ and she told Black workers in hospitality and all this, ‘You don’t need to be’ — she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that,” he said. “I am really over this. She should never be considered material for governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live.”
In a conscious or unconscious shout-out to the tradition of white conservatives blaming civil-rights activism on “outside agitators,” Perdue said of the voting-rights champion: “She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey, she ain’t from here. Let her go back to where she came from. She doesn’t like it here.” Abrams moved to Georgia from Mississippi in high school, attended college in the state, and served as minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.
Perdue may have just been getting carried away with the fascistic company he’s been keeping since becoming Donald Trump’s intended instrument of revenge against Kemp. Or maybe he’s rehearsing a nasty unity pitch he will give after losing (he’s already said he would back Kemp against the dreaded Abrams).
But in any event, his once-promising campaign (he was tied with Kemp in the first poll taken after he entered the governor’s race in December) is sputtering to the finish line, short on money and hope. It’s a token of Perdue’s desperation that his camp is taking encouragement from two late polls showing Kemp only surmounting the 50 percent mark needed to win without a runoff by a few points. It’s theoretically possible that Perdue could survive until a June 21 runoff. But it’s more likely that the 72-year-old politician has run his last race with a disgusting descent into racism marking his demise.
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