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BRIDGES: A flawed fear of primary opposition
Chris Bridges
Chris Bridges

The comment was well meaning but was completely off base at the same time.

“Why is David Perdue challenging our Republican incumbent governor in a time when the Republican Party needs solidarity, not conflict?” the Facebook post said. “Perdue lost his Senate seat to Democrat Ossoff. What makes him think he can beat the Democratic candidate for governor?”

The opinion has several logical flaws. First and foremost, the thoughts offered imply that an incumbent, in this case a Republican, should have a free pass while running for reelection.

Once again, we seem to have a fear of competition when it comes to incumbents in the Republican Party. This isn’t the first time this has surfaced.

Typically, when incumbents have primary opposition, it is of the token variety. You will have primary challengers with little chance of getting more than five percent of the vote.

The case of David Perdue challenging Brian Kemp in the upcoming GOP primary is different. Perdue is a former U.S. Senator. Yes, he lost his reelection bid. However, the fact that he held that office makes him a legitimate candidate in the 2022 governor’s race.

Perdue will certainly earn more than 5% of the vote. There is no guarantee he will win, but he is as legit of a primary challenger as there can be. The endorsement of a former president also helps his chances significantly. 

Certainly, Kemp and his supporters would have preferred Perdue not enter this race. The other three primary challengers combined don’t cause as much worry as Perdue does.

Probably most frightening to Kemp is former president Donald Trump, who has endorsed Perdue. Trump still holds a grudge against Kemp for what he believes in his mind is failure to prevent the state of Georgia from going in the Republican side during the 2020 presidential election.

Trump had endorsed candidates in the races in Georgia for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and for Congress. Similar to the governor primary on the GOP side, Trump has endorsed a challenger in the secretary of state race rather than the incumbent

The 10th Congressional seat is an open race. Had the incumbent lieutenant governor decided to run again, he likely would have been without Trump’s endorsement. The reasons are the same.

Regardless of who endorses whom, no incumbent should have a free pass to re-election. It’s difficult to understand how that rationale ever surfaced.

It could easily be argued that having primary opposition makes your campaign stronger in the long run. If Kemp does win the primary, he will have to work to bring together those who were against him, including the former president.

However, to assume that Perdue not running would magically make the doubters go away is stretching it. 

Kemp has a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. Being the incumbent does have advantages. However, it will not be a cakewalk to the general election.

It’s going to take more than commercials about threatening a would-be suitor of his daughter with a shotgun. Challenger Perdue has some heavyweight allies in this race. Currently, he trails in the polls but that could easily change.

Regardless, it’s time for Kemp supporters to stop the bellyaching about having primary opposition and go about the business of winning the primary.

Voters always deserve a choice at the ballot box. That goes for incumbent governors and their primary races as well.

Chris Bridges is sports editor for The Walton Tribune.