Despite speculation that another run for Senate may be on the cards, former GOP Senator for Georgia David Purdue has announced that he will not stand against incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock in the 2022 elections. Former Senator Purdue called the decision ‘personal’, not ‘political’, and said that he ‘will do everything [he] can’ to ensure that Warnock’s Republican challenger is successful.
The move represents somewhat of a pivot for Purdue, who just last week filed paperwork declaring his candidacy for 2022. However, he said that ‘after much prayer and reflection’, he and his wife had decided it was best he not run for Senate again.
In the November 2020 election, Purdue narrowly beat out his Democrat competitor Jon Ossoff, though he fell short of the 50% of the vote required to win the seat. This triggered a run-off election, which Ossoff won by just over 1%. The Senate campaign was the most expensive in US Senate history, costing over $468. Purdue’s defeat, along with former Senator Kelly Loeffler’s loss to Rev. Raphael Warnock, cost the Republican Party control of the Senate.
However, the turnout for the November election was higher than that of the January run-off, prompting Purdue to say in his statement that ‘Georgia is not a blue state’. In the statement, he seemed confident that whoever runs against Warnock will win. Purdue declared that he ‘will do everything [he] can’ to ensure a Republican victory in 2022.
The November 2020 election also saw Joe Biden win Georgia by a very slim margin of 12,000 votes, costing the GOP and then-President Trump 16 electoral college votes and a state which he won solidly in 2016.
Purdue’s re-election campaign was marred with controversies and mistakes, including an anti-Semitic poster, a poor performance in the second debate, and Perdue’s refusal to take part in a debate before the run-off elections which famously led to Ossoff debating an empty podium.
Perdue’s announcement that he will not contest the 2022 election creates opportunities for other potential Republican candidates, as Purdue would’ve certainly had a good chance of securing the nomination. One such potential candidate is former Rep. Doug Collings, who represented Georgia’s 9th District in the House of representatives between 2013 and 2021.
Warnock, who won the January run-off election with just over 51% of the vote, will be a difficult candidate to beat in 2022. Warnock is a well-known figure in Atlanta; he is the Senior paster at Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is located in the area designated as Martin Luther King Jr. National Park and is where Martin Luther King Jr. himself preached between 1960 and his assassination in 1968.
However, Warnock does hold many controversial views. He is pro-choice, which is a rare stance for a pastor to take. He has also been faced with allegations of anti-Semitism, thanks to both numerous comments he has made about Israel, and his friendship with well-known anti-Semite louis Farrakhan. After communist Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died in 2016, Warnock told his congregation to pray for the people of Cuba. He called Castro’s legacy, ‘complex, kind of like America’s legacy is complex’.
Former Senator Kelly Loeffler, who Warnock defeated in 2022, has announced that she is creating a non-profit organisation called ‘Greater Georgia’, which will be targeted at voter registration and improving election integrity.