In Jon Meacham’s, Franklin and Winston, there’s a memorable line on Churchill stating:
“Politicians who spend long years in the arena, as Churchill did, learn that this morning’s foe may become this evening’s ally.”
The inverse is true as well.
We are seeing this play out in Georgia politics starting this past week. The gubernatorial race is the talk of every town across Georgia now that Stacey Abrams and former Senator David Perdue entered the race.
For the Republicans to win in November, voter turnout is not everything, it is the only thing. Trends in data and demographics show the addition of Democratic voters since the last gubernatorial race in 18’. Bluestein wrote a book on it and Abrams’ camp is banking on it.
Perdue and his strategists must believe a Trump-supported Perdue has a better chance of winning against Stacey Abrams than a non-Trump supported Kemp. And who knows, Trump may endorse Abrams if Kemp wins the primary.
Party-line Republicans, who support Kemp and believe he successfully steered Georgia through Covid, are upset Perdue threw his hat in the ring. For the next six months, Kemp and Perdue will be at each other’s throats exhausting valuable time and resources.
Perdue’s strategy for entering the race makes sense. The bet is that Trump supporters are way more plentiful than the number of moderate conservatives who either won’t go to the polls or who will vote for Abrams in the general election— assuming he wins the primary.
If Kemp wins the primary and does not get Trump supporters to show up on election day, his attempt to maintain his address on West Paces Ferry will be futile. Kemp will have to triple down on his existing relationships with the Trump base…the same base who believes Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are the reason Trump did not win in 2020.
If Perdue wins by arousing Trump supporters, every moderate conservative (or at least the ones who believe the election was not stolen) will have to look past Perdue’s rhetoric of a fraudulent Presidential election, personal attacks of the party’s current Governor, and who knows what else over the next 6 months, and ask the exact question Perdue and his team want every Republican to face come November: is it better to have a Republican as Governor or Stacey Abrams?
Back in 2014, Perdue was a moderate Republican running as an outsider. Six years in Washington, with four of them during the Trump years, Perdue is now the ultra-conservative candidate against a current Governor who won in 2018 with ads talking about how he’ll round up illegals himself.
My guess would be that if Perdue beats Kemp in the primary, he’ll slightly lean back in and sell the Perdue who ran for Senate in 2014: the successful businessman doing his civic duty.
The biggest question facing this race over the next 12 months: how influential is a social media-less Trump 12-18 months out of office? The answer to this question alone will determine if Perdue can beat Kemp. If Perdue does not beat Kemp, will Trump supporters show up in November for Kemp? Trump proved he could alter the runoff a year ago and his relevance will be center stage in Georgia come 2022.
The greatest irony: Trump took Perdue out of politics and now Trump’s coattails will need to be ridden for Perdue to reenter.
Politics is a crazy game. Grab your popcorn, because the first 6 months of 2022 may be even more entertaining than the last six month of 2022 when it comes to Georgia politics.
A classic Churchill quote is fitting to end:
“There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them!”