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David Perdue stumps for Newton County votes for governor
David Perdue
David Perdue, former U.S. Senator and now candidate for governor, speaks inside the Covington Municipal Airport on Wednesday, Feb. 2. Perdue is challenging incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp for the Republican nomination. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — David Perdue chose Groundhog Day to again campaign for a statewide office in Newton County.

This time, though, the Republican was seeking election as governor during a campaign stop at the Covington Airport — not reelection to his U.S. Senate seat as he did in October 2020 on the Covington Square.

Perdue spoke to a group of supporters at the airport Wednesday, Feb. 2, to tell why he should replace the state’s sitting governor, Brian Kemp.

“I’m giving everybody a referendum choice to see who they want to stand up to Stacey Abrams in the fall,” he said.

The Sea Island resident and Warner Robins native was in Covington as part of a statewide kickoff tour to his campaign.

Perdue, who served as one of Georgia’s two U.S. senators from 2015-21, received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump after he entered the race in early December to challenge Kemp for the GOP nomination for governor in this year’s GOP primary election.

The winner is expected to face Democrat Abrams in November’s general election for the state’s highest office.

Among the issues of local interest Perdue touched on Wednesday was the state’s pursuit of electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian.

He said he had questions about what he said was the potential cost to taxpayers for the incentives the state may be giving the company to build on a 2,000-acre site in Social Circle and Walton and Morgan counties.

The state government has not publicly disclosed the final cost of what incentives the company is receiving for its plan to build a production and research complex to employ 7,500. Kemp helped recruit the California-based company to Georgia.

“I’m very concerned about what it took to get them here,” Perdue said. 

“I’m for economic development but the right kind of economic development,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s in the best interest of everybody. A lot has yet to be determined what is in that deal.”

Perdue said his “phone rang off the hook” in February 2021 with callers urging him to challenge Kemp — whom Trump is opposing for not intervening in the tabulation of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election which Trump lost to President Joe Biden. 

He said he wants to return Georgia voters’ trust in election outcomes following Trump’s loss in Georgia and subsequent unsuccessful court challenges to the process that focused on questions about the state’s absentee ballot system.

“Over my dead body will I turn that (voting) process over to Stacey Abrams and that ‘woke’ crowd,” Perdue told supporters.

Later, Perdue told a reporter he knew conservative Republicans were divided in their loyalties between him and Kemp.

However, he said he believed he was the best candidate to unite the party’s many supporters of Trump and "establishment Republicans" supporting Kemp after the primary.

Perdue said he planned to have Republican voters focus on the possibility of Abrams leading Georgia’s state government.

“(I’ll tell) everybody what’s in their best interest,” Perdue said.

Other Republicans who have said they will run for governor this year include former DeKalb County CEO and state House member Vernon Jones, educator Kandiss Taylor and human resources executive Catherine Davis.