May 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Perdue closes primary run with racist attack on Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams PErdue
Photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Former Sen. David Perdue closed out his bid for the GOP's nomination for governor of Georgia by seizing on comments by Democrat Stacey Abrams over the weekend with a racist retort, accusing Abrams of “demeaning her own race.”

What he's saying: “She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey, she ain’t from here," Perdue said during a radio appearance Monday. "Let her go back to where she came from. She doesn’t like it here.”

  • "[S]he is demeaning her own race when it comes to that, I’m really over this," Perdue said as he pivoted to responding to comments Abrams made in 2018 saying people shouldn't have to work in agriculture or the hospitality industry to find jobs in Georgia.
  • She did not reference race in those comments.
  • "She should never be considered material for governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live," Perdue said.
  • Abrams, who is a Black woman, was born in Wisconsin and lived in Mississippi before attending high school and college in Georgia.

Of note: Perdue's spokeswoman did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment Monday. A spokesperson for Abrams pointed to her comment to MSNBC's Joy Reid.

  • "I think that regardless of which Republican it is, I have yet to hear them articulate a plan for the future of Georgia," she said.
"I will stand on my record and I will stand on my work and I will stand in the space where I have lived — I've been back for more than 20 years, and what I will tell you is that I love Georgia. I've been to every single county in the state and what I hear from person after person .... is they just want a chance to thrive, and I challenge every Republican to stop focusing on the little bit of rhetoric and actually show me in your record. ..."
— Stacey Abrams to MSNBC's Joy Reid

Our thought bubble via Axios' Russell Contreras: Perdue's comment harkens back to those made by segregationists against Black activists during the civil rights movement.

  • Segregationists accused Black civil rights leaders of setting bad examples for other Black residents by demanding civil rights. They made racist generalizations about how Black leaders should act and who they represented.

The backdrop: Perdue was responding to a comment by Abrams over the weekend that Georgia is "the worst state in the country to live” because of social conditions, like maternal mortality rates and gun violence, which Georgia Republicans have since had a field day with. Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Brian Kemp both referenced the comments in a rally later Monday.

  • “I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live,” Abrams said Saturday.
  • “When you’re No. 48 for mental health, when you’re No. 1 for maternal mortality, when you have an incarceration rate that’s on the rise and wages that are on the decline, then you are not the No. 1 place to live.”

Context: The Trump-backed Perdue, who lost his seat to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff in 2020, is trailing far behind incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp on the back of an underwhelming return to politics with a primary showdown between the pair set for Tuesday.

  • Abrams lost the governor’s race to Gov. Brian Kemp by a razor-thin margin in 2018.
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