Georgia GOP gubernatorial clash: Perdue proposes election law enforcement unit

David Perdue: I entered Georgia governors race to ‘stop Stacey Abrams’

Former Sen. David Perdue joins ‘Hannity’ in his first interview since announcing bid

EXCLUSIVE: Former GOP Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who is primary challenging Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in this year’s election, is rolling out a plan to create an Election Law Enforcement Division in the Peach State.

“What happened in 2020 should never happen again,” Perdue said on Thursday morning as he announced his proposal to create a law enforcement unit that would investigate election crimes and fraud in Georgia and would have the authority to make arrests. 

Perdue’s announcement, which was shared first with Fox News, also includes a call for election results in the state to be independently audited before being certified.

Georgia was one of a half dozen states where now President Biden narrowly edged former President Donald Trump to win the White House in the 2020 election.

Biden topped Trump by less than 12,000 votes out of nearly 5 million cast in Georgia. The ballots in Georgia were counted three times – the original Election Day count, a mandatory hand recount and a recount requested by Trump’s campaign. Infuriated with Kemp’s refusal to help him upend the results in Georgia and for certifying the state’s election results, Trump has repeated vowed to return to the state to campaign against Kemp.

FILE – Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during a "Save the Majority" rally in Augusta, Ga. on Dec. 10, 2020. 
(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Perdue announced his candidacy for governor early in December, after months of encouragement from Trump to run. The former president formally endorsed Perdue the day after he launched his campaign. Perdue’s move set up an epic GOP primary battle with the conservative incumbent in a one time solidly red state that’s become a top general election battleground.

Perdue, a former corporate chief executive officer who was elected to the Senate in 2014, was defeated in his bid for a second term by a razor-thin margin by Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s twin Jan. 5, 2021 runoff elections. Democrat Raphael Warnock edged Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the other contest, handing the Democrats the Senate majority. 

The former senator took aim at Kemp in explaining why the proposed election law enforcement unit is needed.

“When Georgians had legitimate questions about the November election, Kemp refused to investigate or fix problems before the January runoff.,” Perdue charged in a statement to Fox News. “Leave it to a 20-year career politician like Kemp to sit on his hands when we needed him most. He failed us, and Georgians lost confidence that their vote would count.”

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, at a campaign event in Athens, Georgia, in June 18, 2021.
(Brian Kemp Campaign)

Perdue emphasized that “the purpose of this law enforcement unit is to give Georgians confidence that only legal votes will be counted, and that anyone who tries to interfere with our elections will be arrested and prosecuted.”

And he described his call for elections to be independently audited before they are certified as “a commonsense step to safeguard our election integrity and ensure transparency and accountability in our system. When I’m Governor, we’ll have the safest and securest elections in the country.”

The announcement by Perdue comes two days after conservative Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of neighboring Florida proposed a budget that includes spending $5.7 million to create an Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Fueled by Trump’s repeated unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen” from him, election integrity has become a top issue for Republican voters. Georgia and Florida are among a dozen and a half states – where Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature – that have passed into law measures that tighten voting access rules, which Democrats charge are voter suppression moves.

Kemp and Perdue are the top two gubernatorial contenders in a Republican primary field that also includes former state rep. Vernon Jones, a leading Black Trump supporter and surrogate in the 2020 election who switched his allegiance from the Democrats to the GOP.

Stacey Abrams, the voting rights champion, former state Democratic legislative leader, and rising national star in her party who narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018, launched her second straight run for governor a week before Perdue jumped into the race.

FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, Stacey Abrams speaks at a rally for now President Joe Biden, at Turner Field in Atlanta. 
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

Perdue, in his statement, also charged that “Kemp caved to Stacey Abrams before the November election and weakened our elections standards.”

Perdue appeared to be pointing towards a sweeping overhaul of the way Georgia elections were administered, that Kemp quietly signed into law in 2019. Some of the provisions, which were backed by Democrats, addressed concerns raised during Kemp’s 2018 victory over Abrams regarding how nonwhite voters were treated. 

The law, which was approved by Georgia’s GOP controlled legislature, blocked county election officials from rejecting absentee ballots due to mismatched signatures and prevented people from being kicked off the voting rolls due to information that doesn’t match government databases.

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