Former GOP Senator David Perdue has released a statement explaining why he may run for Senate again in 2022, after filing forms with the Federal Electoral Commission. Perdue said that ‘Georgia is not a blue state’, and that Georgia needs “to regain the Republican majority in the US Senate to change the direction of the country.”
Purdue served as a Senator from Georgia until early this year, when he lost his runoff election to Jon Ossoff by around 1%. Despite beating Ossoff in the November 2020 election, Perdue failed to reach the required 50%, so a run-off election was held. The turnout for the runoff was lower than in November, leading Perdue to claim in his statement that the November election ‘is the best poll of where Georgia is right now.’
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If he does run in 2022, he will face off against Raphael Warnock who beat his Republican counterpart Kelly Loeffler. Warnock, a pastor, is pro-choice, opposes the death penalty, wants universal healthcare, and refused to say whether or not he supported packing the supreme court. Warnock beat Loeffler by over 2%, a wider margin than Perdue to Ossoff lost by.
Should Purdue decide to run, he will certainly face doubts concerning his electability. During his campaign against Ossoff, Purdue was criticised for his lacklustre debating skills, after he performed poorly in his second debate, cancelled the third debate, and declined to participate in a debate for the run-off election, which lead to Ossoff famously debating against an empty podium in December. Purdue was called a ‘coward’ and ‘arrogant’ by Ossoff for avoiding a pre-run-off debate.
Perdue also came under fire from Ossoff after being investigated for insider trading. His stock market success attracted suspicion, as 2596 trades were conducted, and Purdue held shares in pandemic-related companies such as Pfizer. Whilst he was ultimately cleared of the charges, the scandal hurt his reputation as it gave the impression that he was both untrustworthy and in politics for himself instead of Georgia. Kelly Loeffler was also accused of insider trading, though the investigation against her was eventually dropped.
Further controversy came when advert supporting Perdue and claiming that ‘Democrats are trying to buy Georgia’ was widely criticised for being anti-Semitic. It displayed both Chuck Schumer and Jon Ossoff, both Jews, and used a filter which enlarged Ossoff’s nose. Purdue’s campaign removed the ad and called it an ‘unfortunate and inadvertent error’ by an outside vendor, before reiterating Purdue’s firm opposition to anti-Semitism and hate. Yet even if it was just a foolish mistake, it still contributed to the image of an arrogant, out-of-touch rich politician that Ossoff was painting of Purdue.
The man who Purdue would face, Raphael Warnock, won his run-off election in-part because he seemed like a man of the people. He came from humble origins, was a pastor in a very religious state yet was well liked by liberals, and had been a leading voice of the Georgian left for years. He is also an African American in a state where African Americans make up almost 32% of the population, yet have been historically underrepresented. He was a much more relatable figure than his opponent Kelly Loeffler, who has a net worth of around half a billion dollars and has been a businesswoman and politician her whole life.
If Purdue is serious about running against Warnock, many would argue he needs to drastically change his image. Compared to the young, relatable, charming, well-spoken Jon Ossoff, Purdue seemed archaic, arrogant, and out of touch. Much like Loeffler, he has been in business and politics his whole life, and also much like Loeffler he wasn’t relatable at all. If Purdue wants to present a serious challenge to Raphael Warnock in 2022, he needs to change that.