ATLANTA (AP) — Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue said Tuesday that he will not run in 2022 to reclaim a seat in the U.S. Senate, eight days after the defeated Republican filed campaign paperwork that could have opened the way for him to run against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
“I am confident that whoever wins the Republican primary next year will defeat the Democrat candidate in the general election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen,” the 71-year-old said in a statement.
Perdue lost his reelection bid during a closely watched runoff last month against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Ossoff’s win, along with Warnock’s victory over Sen. Kelly Loeffler, resulted in Democrats taking control of the Senate for the first time since 2011.
Perdue had filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 15.
Unlike Ossoff, who will not be up for reelection until 2026, Warnock’s term expires in two years. That’s because Warnock is filling the remainder of retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.
Warnock, who served as pastor for the same Atlanta church where civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, is Georgia’s first African American senator.
Perdue's decision not to run could ease the path for a number of other Republican candidates. Former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who did not advance to the runoff against Warnock after finishing behind Loeffler in November, has said he could run for Senate in 2022, or might try to knock off incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Loeffler has been raising her profile in recent days by announcing Greater Georgia, a group that's supposed to register voters, promote conservative policies, and advocate for restrictive voting changes Republicans say are necessary.
Perdue is a former business executive who was elected in 2014. He was one of former President Donald Trump’s chief defenders in the Senate and fell just short of the 50% threshold he needed to defeat Ossoff outright Nov. 3. Perdue has never directly conceded to Ossoff and on Tuesday repeated the assertion that his Nov. 3 lead was a better indication of Georgia's partisan composition than his runoff loss.
“As we saw in my race in November, Georgia is not a blue state," Perdue said. "The more Georgians that vote, the better Republicans do. These two current liberal U.S. senators do not represent the values of a majority of Georgians.”
Perdue, like Loeffler, is lending his support to a range of changes Republicans say are needed to build trust in the electoral system after Perdue, Loeffler and Trump spent months questioning the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's November victory in Georgia.
“I am hopeful that the Georgia General Assembly, along with our statewide elected officials, will correct the inequities in our state laws and election rules so that, in the future, every legal voter will be treated equally and illegal votes will not be included," Perdue said. "I will do everything I can to be helpful in this effort.”
No evidence of any significant wrongdoing has ever been presented and Democrats say Republicans are trying to make it harder for people to vote to retain political power in the state.