Sen. David Perdue was encouraging a crowd at a gun club south of Atlanta to support him and fellow Republican Kelly Loeffler in their bids for Georgia’s Senate seats, which he called the only thing standing between America and “a radical socialist agenda.”
But five minutes into the senator’s speech, a man interrupted.
“What are you doing to help Donald Trump and this fraud case?” the man screamed, as one woman said “Amen” and the crowd applauded. “What are you doing to stop what’s been going on here and this election fraud?”
The Republican candidates in Georgia’s dual Senate runoff campaign are navigating a highly unusual political labyrinth — caught in the middle of an intraparty war that has erupted since President Trump narrowly lost the state to President-elect Joe Biden and has turned his fire on the Republican leadership there.
The infighting now threatens to turn off the very Republican voters Perdue and Loeffler need to stave off challenges from their Democratic rivals, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Trump and his allies have repeatedly, and falsely, accused Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, of presiding over a fraudulent election. Trump has pushed the baseless claim that the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia were rigged as part of a global conspiracy, and Perdue and Loeffler have called for Raffensperger’s resignation.
But therein lies the conundrum: Perdue and Loeffler are traveling the state pleading with Republican voters to turn out on Jan. 5 — effectively asking Trump supporters to put their faith in the same voting system their president claims was manipulated to engineer his defeat.