Governors

Round One of GAGOV Debate Season Goes To: No One

Last night’s Republican primary debate in the Georgia gubernatorial race was a loss for all parties — beleaguered incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, disgraced former Senator David Perdue, the reporters forced to moderate their bickering, and the people of Georgia who had to watch it all.

Whatever the platonic ideal of a democratic debate is, last night was not it. Kemp and Perdue squabbled over every issue — but especially the 2020 election — slinging personal attacks and hurling insults. “It was less a debate and more of a barroom brawl,” reported the Atlanta Journal Constitution. And they get to do it all again on Thursday

This latest display of Republican disarray comes as the GOP continues to scramble with picking a competent enough candidate to take on a unified Georgia Democratic Party and a strong, focused Stacey Abrams in November. 

Whether it’s Kemp or Perdue who wins on May 24, one thing is certain: They will be limping out of this primary bruised by nasty, public attacks from their own party. 

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Takeaways from the brawl between Brian Kemp and David Perdue

  • “Did you bring a bulletproof vest?” read a text that one of your insiders received shortly before the debate began.
  • It was the first time that Kemp and Perdue had met face-to-face since Perdue announced his challenge in December – a move that Kemp saw as a ruthless betrayal.
  • In one exchange after another, the two pummeled each other.
  • Veteran GOP strategist Brian Robinson likened the matchup to an episode of the Jerry Springer show.
  • “I’ve never seen such raw hatred in a debate on the state level,” he said. “It’s at the same level as those paternity test shows where the mom throws a chair at a man who swears he can’t be the father.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Kemp, Perdue clash bitterly in first primary debate

  • The bitter faceoff between the onetime allies comes a month before the Republican primary. And it sometimes took on the tone of a family feud, Kemp recalling when they campaigned together.
  • Asked if he was dividing the GOP by launching a primary challenge to Kemp, Perdue said the party “was already divided.”
  • “The only reason I am running for governor is to try to save our state,” Perdue said. “The woke left has entrenched themselves here.”

WSB-TV: Sparks fly during WSB-TV Republican gubernatorial debate

  • Almost from the very start of the debate, the men competing to be the Republican nominee in November’s election for governor were going after one another.
  • “Weak leaders take credit when things go well…and they blame somebody else when it doesn’t,” Perdue said.
  • “Weak leaders blame everybody else for their own loss instead of themselves,” Kemp fired back.

New York Times: Kemp and Perdue Debate, Looking Back at 2020 and Ahead to Abrams

  • Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia and former Senator David Perdue, a former ally who is challenging him in the Republican primary next month, met in an explosive first debate on Sunday night that was marked by a lengthy rehashing of the 2020 election’s outcome and testy attacks on each other’s veracity.
  • During the hourlong exchange, the candidates sparred over their conservative bona fides, a handful of policy issues popular on the right and who would ultimately be the stronger candidate against Stacey Abrams in November.

CNN: Kemp and Perdue clash over 2020 election results at Georgia GOP governor’s debate

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue clashed over the results of the 2020 election during the state’s GOP governor’s debate Sunday night, blaming each other for Democratic gains in the last election cycle.
  • It marked the first primary debate between Perdue, whose most prominent supporter is former President Donald Trump, and Kemp, who the former President says betrayed him for refusing to help him overturn his defeat in 2020 and whom he has set out to dethrone.

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