Georgia Republicans who despise Gov. Brian Kemp threaten to stay home this November if Trump-backed challenger David Perdue loses Tuesday's primary

·3 min read
Former Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, standing behind a crowd of supporters, a cardboard cutout of former President Donald Trump to his immediate right, poses for a photo in front of homemade sign that reads "Trump Voters for David Perdue" during a campaign stop in Augusta, Georgia on Friday, May 20.
Georgia gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue poses alongside a cardboard cutout of former President Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Augusta, Georgia on Friday, May 20.Warren Rojas/Insider
  • David Perdue is challenging incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a May 24 primary.

  • Trump has suggested that MAGA world may stay home in November if Perdue loses.

  • MAGA voters denounced Kemp as a "Judas," "betrayer," and "liar."

AUGUSTA, Georgia — Republicans in Georgia still seething about the 2020 presidential race say they would rather sit out the election in November if Trump's candidate, former Sen. David Perdue, loses an upcoming GOP gubernatorial primary than ever support incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.

The animosity towards Kemp, whom several MAGA Republicans described as a "Judas" and "betrayer" for certifying Joe Biden's win in 2020, is unlikely to affect the outcome of the May 24 primary. But it may hurt Kemp's chances this fall in an anticipated rematch with presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, the woman he narrowly beat in 2018 — with Trump's support.

"I don't want Stacey Abrams. But I don't think I can vote for Brian Kemp," a 27-year-old Gordon County resident who declined to give his name told Insider at a "Bikers for Trump" rally about an hour north of Atlanta.

The local Republican, who accused Kemp of "rolling over and letting the country get crucified" during the last election, said he planned to vote for Perdue on Tuesday because the Trump-endorsed former senator from Georgia had vowed to hold everyone involved in the "rigged and stolen" presidential contest accountable if he gets elected.

Earlier in the day, an 81-year-old Georgian who said he's voted Republican since 1964, couldn't even bring himself to say Kemp's name or that of Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger.

"I wouldn't vote for either one of them. They're not Republicans. They're liars," David, who declined to provide his last name, said at Perdue's May 20 event at a rural airfield. He added that Kemp and Raffensperger "did Trump in in Georgia" by not investigating the results to the twice-impeached former president's satisfaction.

Kemp and Raffensperger conducted a statewide audit and oversaw recounts of the more than 5 million votes Georgians cast in the 2020 presidential election. Biden beat Trump there by about 12,000 votes.

Amy Steigerwalt, a professor of political science at Georgia State University, said the 2020 race is over for everyone but the Trumpiest locals. "Most voters know that the recounts and audits all showed that the election was conducted fairly and transparently, and that there was no evidence of fraud or malfeasance," she told Insider.

Still, Trump mentioned the possibility of his devotees sitting out the governor's race earlier this month. CNN reported that he said "many Republicans are just not going to vote for Kemp" during a call-in rally he did for Perdue.

Georgian Robert Weinger, wearing Trump 2020 t-shirt and Trump 2024 ball cap, holds a ceremonial shofar horn in his right hand while posing for a photo May 20 at a David Perdue for governor rally in Augusta, Georgia.
David Perdue supporter Robert Weinger hoists his custom shofar at a campaign event in August, Georgia on Friday, May 20.Warren Rojas/Insider

That prediction is closer to becoming reality as Perdue, who is pushing back against recent polling showing that Kemp has a 30-point lead heading into Tuesday's primary, keeps trying to drive GOP voters to the polls.

"I'm encouraging anybody that's concerned about the future of our state and our country to get out and vote — whichever side you're on," he told supporters Friday, adding, "If you don't vote, it is absolutely a vote for the other side."

Regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, Perdue rally attendee Robert Weinger, 70, said his mind is made up about November.

"I will not vote for Gov. Kemp," he said, brushing aside gloom-and-doom scenarios about Abrams carrying the state this fall.

"Anybody can beat Stacey Abrams," Weinger said. "She's a fraud."

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