ATLANTA — Former Georgia U.S. senator David Perdue said Tuesday he will not run for the Senate in the next election cycle.
After filing candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission last week, Perdue, a Republican, said he will not challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022.
“After much prayer and reflection, Bonnie and I have decided that we will not enter the race for the United States Senate in Georgia in 2022,” Perdue said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a personal decision, not a political one. I am confident that whoever wins the Republican primary next year will defeat the Democrat candidate in the general election for this seat, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”
Perdue lost his reelection bid to Democrat Jon Ossoff, who along with Warnock helped the Democrats clinch the majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 chamber.
Ossoff’s term will last the full six years, but Warnock, who ran in a special election to fill the remainder of former Republican U.S. senator Johnny Isakson’s term upon Isakson's retirement for health reasons, is up for reelection in 2022.
There has been speculation on which Georgia Republicans may run. Gainesville resident and former U.S. representative Doug Collins is one possibility. A strong defender of former President Donald Trump who is popular in rural Georgia, Collins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is considering either a bid for the Senate or a run against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
“We’ve got a good background. People in the state know us,” Collins said in an interview with the AJC. “Am I open to considering a run for the Senate or governor? Yes.”
Former U.S. senator Kelly Loeffler is also weighing a run, reported by the AJC, after she lost a runoff to Warnock.
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is also on the list of GOP possibilities. In an interview with CNHI, Duncan said he is focused on the legislative session but will reevaluate when it ends.
“We'll look up after the end of session and just look at all the opportunities that are out there,” he said.
Georgia may have shocked many across the nation when the state backed Democrat Joe Biden for president and sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, but voter mobilization organizations saw it as the culmination of a decade of hard work.
When Perdue and the Kemp-appointed Loeffler lost their Jan. 5 runoffs, some pundits attributed it to both growing Democratic enthusiasm but also problems within the Republican Party, saying Republicans failed to boost their base and appeal to moderate voters. Some election officials in the state said Trump unintentionally suppressed voters with his false claims of voter fraud.
Despite Democrats winning crucial statewide races, Republicans still hold a majority of the statehouse.
“The more Georgians that vote, the better Republicans do,” Perdue said in the statement. “These two current liberal U.S. senators do not represent the values of a majority of Georgians."
Riley Bunch covers the Georgia statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.