• Brian Kemp fans lived it up Tuesday night following his decisive primary win against David Perdue.
  • They enjoyed booze, burgers and a much-needed break from campaigning.
  • "There's clearly a mandate with conservatives right now," one Kemp admirer told Insider.

ATLANTA, Georgia — Beers flowed like water and cheesy bite-sized sliders disappeared by the handful Tuesday night as attendees at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's primary election watch party took some time to savor his commanding victory over Trump-backed candidate David Perdue.  

"I'm grreaaaat! How are you?" one woman, who looked wound up enough to jump out of her skin, greeted another at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame where Kemp was holding his primary watch party Tuesday night. 

One little boy handed out Kemp buttons and stickers to everyone he came in contact with. 

"Future governor of Georgia, right here!" a cocktail-sipping partygoer announced to no one in particular as the precocious paraphernalia pusher disappeared into the crowd. 

"I think there's clearly a mandate with conservatives right now," Alpharetta, Georgia resident Eamon Keegan, 36, said of Kemp's much stronger hand leading into the general election this fall. 

Kemp easily overcame a challenge from Perdue, a former US senator who had entered the race in December on the urging of a vengeance-seeking Trump. The former president and his allies have continued to blame Kemp for Trump's 2020 election loss in Georgia and had hoped Perdue would unseat the incumbent governor and faceoff against Democratic voting rights activist Stacey Abrams in November.  But Kemp's runaway win over Perdue was called less than half an hour after the polls closed in Georgia. It was an unsurprising win and his fans had come already ready to celebrate.

Suit-clad gents juggled Kemp-branded tumblers full of Napa Valley chardonnay in one hand and succulent pulled pork sliders in the other, working overtime to try and keep errant barbecue sauce from ruining their designer dress shirts. 

Newton County resident Tammy Cartledge, 53, said Kemp got her vote in 2018 and again this year by standing up for what she believes in. 

"I'm pro-life. And I'm a girl that likes to carry her gun," Cartledge told Insider. "And he protects that."

Jill Fuentes, a 32-year-old Atlanta resident said she voted against Kemp in 2018, backing Abrams in their previous contest. But Fuentes, a Black woman, and small business owner said Kemp won her over by fighting to reopen the state during the pandemic.  

"Gov. Kemp is really focused on the real issues that Georgia is facing and not the politics," Fuentes said, adding that "I love the fact that he is building a coalition behind him."

'Thank you for everything'

Brian Kemp supporters sign a commemorative poster at the Georgia governor's primary victory party May 24 in Atlanta, Georgia. Foto: Warren Rojas/Insider

On Monday night, in a last-minute push for votes, Perdue held a tele-rally with Trump, who cast the former senator as better suited to unite Republicans and defeat Abrams in November. Meanwhile, at about the same time Trump's former vice president —and now political rival — turned up in Georgia to campaign for Kemp, in what would look like a proxy war between the ex-commander-in-chief and his one-time top deputy.

Tuesday's win for Kemp is in essence a win for Pence. And Perdue's defeat is an embarrassing loss for Trump, adding to other failures among his endorsees to clinch victories.

Perdue quickly conceded, saying he had called and congratulated Kemp on his win and offered his full support. 

"Everything I said about Brian Kemp was true, but here's the other thing I said was true; he's a much better choice than Stacey Abrams," Perdue told his supporters from his primary night camp in Atlanta. "We're going to get behind our governor...we're going to do everything we can to make damn sure Stacey Abrams doesn't take over this state." 

Back at the Kemp party, Atlanta resident Jeff Michael, 56, was sipping a cold drink and chatting up strangers when Insider approached.  Michael said he appreciated Kemp's steady leadership and the tax relief he's provided.  

As the night progressed, a Kemp poster staff had placed outside the main ballroom filled up with personal messages. 

"Thank you for everything." "Keep putting Georgia 1st." And "You Rock!" were just some of the notes well-wishers scribbled to their favorite candidate on a night that felt like a Georgian lovefest. 

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