As the Republican Primary in Georgia approaches, it's clear that former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) doesn't appear to be doing well. His poll numbers are in the gutter, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed. The former senator lost after the 2020 election led to a Trump-supporter boycott of the Jan. 2021 runoff. He along with his GOP colleague Kelly Loeffler lost their jobs.
Former President Donald Trump has gotten involved as Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) tries to get reelected in November. As Vanity Fair explained, the revenge plan isn't working out the way he thought. After Kemp refused to hand the 2020 election to Trump, the stage was set for a rematch between what Trump viewed as a traitor and a hand-picked Trump ally.
Perdue announced he was running in the name of Trumpism, but he has failed to gain traction after being kicked out of office. Trump's choice may have been a loyalist, but he failed to factor in other issues voters appear to have with Perdue. The former senator even quietly tried to get non-Trump voters to come in and rescue him. Now, Perdue has cut campaign ads and Trump is reportedly furious. He's already decided that he wants nothing to do with Perdue and is refusing to go to Georgia to help.
When phoning into a Perdue rally, Trump told the crowd that if they didn't vote for Perdue it will be a disaster for the GOP with Kemp at the top of the ticket. There's a reason for that, and it is entirely Donald Trump's fault. Trump has spent two long years trying to bring down Kemp. So, if Kemp is the candidate chosen, Trump supporters aren't likely to come out for Kemp.
Meanwhile, Trump's chosen candidate Herschel Walker has proven to be just as big of a disaster. Georgia Republicans admit they expect he'll lose. Walker has a past that doesn't appear to have been vetted before he got the support of the party. Then he was caught lying about it. It's unknown how the endorsement from the GOP happened. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may have trusted Trump's recommendation or it could have been Senate campaign committee leader Rick Scott (R-FL). With one bad news story after another, Walker's poll numbers grow worse as the November election nears.
It's unclear if Trump will drop Walker the way that he did with Perdue, but McConnell and Scott have already chosen their candidate.
When Trump left the White House early on Jan. 20, 2021, the first thing he did was speak to GOP chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, telling her that he was done with the Republican Party. In the book "Betrayal," written by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, Trump threatened to start his own political party to rival the GOP.
"Donald Trump was in no mood for small talk or nostalgic goodbyes," Karl wrote. "He got right to the point. He told her he was leaving the Republican Party and would be creating his own political party. The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., was also on the phone. The younger Trump had been relentlessly denigrating the RNC for being insufficiently loyal to Trump. In fact, at the January 6 rally before the Capitol Riot, the younger Trump all but declared that the old Republican Party didn't exist anymore."
"You cannot do that," McDaniel told Trump. "If you do, we will lose forever."
"Exactly. You lose forever without me," Trump responded. "I don't care."
McDaniel threatened to stop paying the legal bills of the president as he was going into court losses. They would also destroy his carefully curated email list of millions of Trump supporters tracked all over the country.
"It's a list Trump had used to generate money by renting it to candidates at a steep cost," Karl writes. "The list generated so much money that party officials estimated that it was worth about $100 million."
Trump backed down on his threat, agreeing to stay in the GOP, but what has happened in wake of the fight is that he has managed to destroy the GOP from the inside out, particularly in Georgia where his 2020 election war made the GOP governor unpopular and his hand-picked candidates have failed to garner support.