By all accounts, former Republican Sen. David Perdue did not want to run for governor in his home state of Georgia. He lost a difficult re-election bid in January after running a poor campaign, and when Perdue traveled to Mar-a-Lago earlier this year to visit with Donald Trump, he intended to tell the former president he had no intention of running a GOP primary race against his friend, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp.
The Washington Post reported this week, however, that Trump didn't care. The former president lobbied the former senator relentlessly for months, until Perdue ultimately relented, launching his 2022 candidacy this week.
On the surface, all of this is of interest because the Kemp-Perdue showdown is likely to be a brutal and expensive intra-party fight between two longtime Republicans who agree with one another on practically every issue.
Except, that is, one big thing. Axios reported yesterday:
Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn't have signed the certification of the state's 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.
Specifically on the issue on whether he would've certified his own state's election results, Perdue said yesterday, "Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn't have signed it until those things had been investigated, and that's all we were asking for."
Right off the bat, let's note for emphasis that there was nothing wrong with Georgia's election results. There was no evidence of systemic fraud, no evidence of irregularities, and literally no reason to question the validity of the state's ballot count and recount. President Joe Biden won the state, fair and square.
Let's also note that Axios' report added that under Georgia election law, the governor does not have the ability to withhold certification of the state's election results. Perdue, evidently, wants voters to believe he would've balked anyway because of "the information that was available at the time" — information that showed his party's ticket losing the state of Georgia.
But as important as the trees are, let's not overlook the forest: Perdue makes comments like these — effectively saying he would've rejected the will of his own state's voters — because his candidacy is built on a dangerous foundation. Trump recruited the former senator, not just because he wants to punish Kemp, but because the former president wants an ally leading a key battleground state who will care more about Trump's instructions than the integrity of our electoral system.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes yesterday described Perdue's gubernatorial campaign as "100% a coup candidacy," which may seem provocative, but which is entirely defensible given the circumstances.
For all intents and purposes, we're watching a heist drama unfold. Trump's last attempted robbery didn't quite work out, but he's desperate for one more score, and he's assembling a crew for the next job. Perdue was reluctant, but Trump offered him a big reward, and now he's ready to prove his loyalty to the boss.
The target the crew is now casing is our democracy.