- Trump-backed Perdue is trailing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary.
- Perdue's camp says Trump's support was a big reason Kemp became governor in 2018.
- Splitting the party now, Perdue argues, gives Democrats an edge this fall.
ATLANTA, Georgia — Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue is telling Georgia voters still on the fence ahead of Tuesday's primary that backing incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is futile because Kemp won't be able to unite the MAGA and establishment wings of the GOP in time to beat presumptive Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams this fall.
"He has divided the party. So I'm very concerned that he's gonna have a hard time pulling us together again in November," Perdue, who recent polls show is trailing Kemp by 30 points, told supporters during a campaign event in Augusta, Georgia.
Whether he's trying to convince himself or others about the relevance of Trump's endorsement power, the last-minute pitch has resonated with locals who view Kemp's break with the former president over the 2020 election as disqualifying.
Perdue supporter Sharon Fry, 65, told Insider she worked on Kemp's first gubernatorial bid in 2018. And the only reason he narrowly defeated Abrams last time was because the MAGA world lent its support.
"It took Donald Trump's endorsement. It took everyone getting behind Brian Kemp — even people that did not support him in the runoff," she said of the concentrated effort it took to shore up the 50,000 votes that kept the state from flipping blue. "Brian Kemp does not have all the support this time."
Trump has orchestrated much of that erosion, spending the last few years lashing out against Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Republican officials in other swing states where Joe Biden beat him in 2020.
Trump's non-stop attacks on RINOs, which stands for "Republican in name only," still carry weight with diehard fans who miss the chaos he created while in Washington.
Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox aired his grievances against RINOs Friday night, proclaiming that by defying Trump's wishes, Kemp, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former President George Bush have proven they are more aligned with Biden than MAGA.
"We've already got someone in the 'Let's Go Brandon' administration who's doing the opposite of Donald Trump," Cox told attendees during a rally for Perdue and freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Cox added that being part of the status quo means Kemp's got to go.
"Georgia deserves a governor more like Ron DeSantis," Cox said, praising the combative Florida Republican and potential 2024 presidential contender for relentlessly sticking it to the establishment.
Gordon Country resident Christie Ellis, 50, talked Insider through her reservations about Kemp. She started out saying that she wasn't sure Kemp could beat Abrams in the anticipated rematch this November, but the conversation then took a darker turn.
"What good does it do? What's it matter?" Ellis said of giving Kemp a shot at reelection, given that he only "represents the Stacey Abrams areas" anyway.
"I don't think it would matter if he did beat her. Because, I mean, it's a wash," Ellis predicted.
Amy Rose, 44, who said she voted for Kemp in 2018, expressed a similar sense of alienation.
Rose told Insider she's supporting Kandiss Taylor — the woman running on the "Jesus, Guns, and Babies" platform — for governor because every other GOP candidate has left her behind.
"It's just the same old thing, over and over again, whether it's Democrats or Republicans," Rose said of her disillusionment with mainstream politics. "They're all in the same boat."