Former U.S. Senator David Perdue pressed his attack on incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is to be blamed for Democratic control in Washington. Kemp countered that Perdue was trying pass the blame for he own loss to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Perdue showed support for the debunked claims by Democrats that they fraudulently won the 2020 Presidential election and the 2021 U.S. Senate elections in Georgia.
Perdue stated that the 2020 election was rigged, stolen during a debate sponsored in part by Atlanta's WSB-TV. "All the madness that we see today...all that began right here in Georgia, when our governor allowed radical Democrats to steal our election."
Kemp claimed he was following the law and Perdue was lying about his claim to have allowed a settlement over the signatures of absentee ballots to be verified. The secretary of state, State Election Board, and State Election Board are primary responsible for investigating election fraud.
Kemp stated, "I was Secretary-of-State for eight years." Kemp added that he didn't need to be lectured about the voting laws and who is responsible for them by someone who lost their last election.
Although Kemp was not part of the settlement agreement Perdue claims Kemp should've called a special session to ask lawmakers to repeal it. Perdue also claims Kemp should have done more in investigating fraud claims, claiming that Kemp is the "top cop” in Georgia.
State law required Kemp to certify the results. He has repeatedly stated that any other route would have led to endless litigation. Trump's attorney general and federal election officials have both said that there is no evidence of fraud in the election. Courts, including Trump's appointed judges, have also rejected the allegations of fraud made by former president.
Kemp stated, "You have a candidate who is going to attack me record, unfortunately all night tonight because they didn’t have a record to beat Jon Ossoff 2020."
As voting closes for the May 24th primary, the debates are taking place. Absentee ballots can be sent out by counties starting Monday. Early in-person voting starts May 2. Kemp and Perdue will meet in Savannah on Thursday, and in Atlanta on May 1.
The primary also includes Perdue and Kemp, as well as Kandiss Taylor, Tom Williams, and Catherine Davis, Republicans. If necessary, a runoff will be held on June 21.
Kemp faced with a Republican primary electorate which polls show believes Trump lost unfairly. He didn't think the 2020 and 2021 elections had been fair and he didn't believe there was any fraud.
Kemp stated, "Look, I was just as frustrated as anyone else." "That's why the strongest election integrity law in the country was passed, because many things were done by others."
Trump, has endorsed Perdue and is focused on defeating Kemp. As he seeks another term, Kemp maintains a lead in fundraising as well as in the polls. This dynamic was evident in the debate with Perdue attacking Kemp and Kemp turning defensive and dismissive.
He sought to highlight his record which included raising teacher and state employee salaries, cutting taxes, and swiftly lifting restrictions following Georgia's COVID-19 lockdown. Kemp stated that this is a better approach to defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams, than endless litigation from past elections.
Kemp stated, "That record will beat Stacey Abrams November, not looking in to the rearview mirror."
Perdue argues that he is the only one who can win votes from Trump-haters to defeat Abrams.
Kemp was told by Perdue that "He has divided us." He will not be able beat Stacey Abrams. We must vote if we are to preserve our freedoms and our values. And we must make sure that Stacey Abrams is not our governor.
Kemp deflected repeatedly when asked if Kemp supports the Buckhead, mostly white, neighborhood secession from the poorer, blacker city of Atlanta. This effort was defeated in the state legislature by opposition from some business groups, Republican legislators and Atlanta city officials. Kemp stated that he was focusing on Atlanta's crime reduction.
Kemp stated, "I believe the debate must continue." Let this movement move forward or not. The legislature will make that decision.
Perdue stated that this was an example Kemp of being a weak governor and supporting Buckhead's departure from Atlanta.
Perdue stated that Buckhead's support for the split was because "they're trying to defend themselves." "And that's only possible if they have control over their government. Do not forget to keep your powder dry. There are people getting killed right now."
Perdue also criticised Kemp for not doing more in arresting people in the country illegally. He pointed to a 2018 advertisement in which Kemp promised to round up "criminal illicits" and transport them in "his big truck," if necessary.
"What happened, governor? Pickup break down?" Perdue asked.
Kemp said he was proud of his record and pointed out that he had stationed Georgia National Guard members close to the Mexican border. He said that he thought it was a bad idea to increase the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kemp stated, "I don’t know how picking up people who might have COVID while our law enforcement was sending ventilators to hospitals would have been a good strategy."