Sen. David Perdue lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jon Ossoff during the runoff election in Georgia in January and has blamed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for the defeat. File Photo by Anna Moneymaker/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Former Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue -- who was defeated in January by Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff that helped Democrats take the Senate -- announced Monday that he's running for governor and setting up a GOP primary fight with incumbent Brian Kemp.
Perdue served for a single six-year term before he was beaten by Ossoff. Now, the millionaire businessman is setting his sights on the Georgia statehouse.
Prominent Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams is the top contender on the Democratic side of the race. She ran, but narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018.
"I'm running for governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is never governor of Georgia," Perdue said in a video message Monday. "Make no mistake, Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to transform Georgia into her radical vision of a state that would look more like California or New York."
Perdue, the former chief executive for companies Reebok and Dollar General, was a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump and supported efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
After the election a year ago, Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger became engaged in a war of words with Trump over his false accusations of voter fraud, leading Trump to call for different GOP leadership in Georgia.
Perdue's loss during the Senate runoff has been largely credited to Abrams, who worked to rally the Democratic party and encourage voter turnout in Georgia.
In his announcement Monday, Perdue blamed Kemp for his defeat to Ossoff and said Georgia voters "have to be united" to fight against Abrams and her supporters.
"Unfortunately, today we are divided and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame," he said. "Look, I like Brian. This isn't personal. It's simple. He has failed all of us and cannot win in November."
Perdue also said Kemp gave President Joe Biden "free reign" over the state.
Kemp's allies have promised "total war" if Perdue entered the race -- branding the move a "betrayal."
"While David Perdue and Brian Kemp fight each other, Stacey Abrams will be fighting for the people of Georgia," Lauren Groh-Wargo, a top aide to Abrams, said on Twitter.
"Both Kemp and Perdue would continue to deprive 500,000 Georgians of health coverage that our taxpayers already paid for.
"Both would continue to underfund our schools, both would continue to divide Georgia and both would continue failed leadership that has endangered the lives of Georgians during the [coronavirus] pandemic."
The recipients of the 44th Kennedy Center Honors pose for a group photo following the Medallion Ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The 2021 honorees are, from top left, Lorne Michaels and Bette Midler, and from bottom left, Justino Diaz, Joni Mitchell, and Berry Gordy. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo