U.S. Sen. David Perdue

ATLANTA — Former U.S. Senator David Perdue announced Tuesday he will not run for U.S. Senate in the next election cycle.

After drawing a whirlwind of speculation on a bid by filing candidacy papers with the Federal Elections Commission last week, Perdue said he will not return in the 2022 election cycle to challenge U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock.

“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. “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 young Democrat Jon Ossoff, who along with Warnock, helped the party clinch the majority of the upper chamber of Congress.

Ossoff’s term will last the full six years, but Warnock — who ran in the special election to fill the remainder of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term upon his retirement — is up for reelection in 2022.

Speculation has brewed over what top Georgia Republicans may throw their hats in the ring for the Senate seat. Perdue’s announcement officially opens the field for Senate-hopefuls.

Gainesville resident and former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is one possibility. A top defender of former President Donald Trump and popular candidate in rural Georgia, Collins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is considering either a bid for the Senate or against 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. Sen. Kelly Loeffler is also weighing a run, reported by the AJC, after she lost her runoff to Warnock.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan is also on the list of GOP figures. 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 the nation when it backed Democrat Joe Biden for president and sent two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, but voter mobilizer organizations saw it was the culmination of a decade of hard work.

When Perdue and Kemp-appointed Loeffler lost their Jan. 5 runoffs, pundits attributed it to both growing Democratic enthusiasm but also problems from within the party. Republicans failed to boost their base and appeal to moderate voters with a lackluster ground game while elections officials say former President Donald Trump unintentionally suppressed voters with his false claims of voter fraud.

The last election cycle was marked with bitter intra-party fighting in the GOP which set an uncertain tone for the primaries ahead of the 2022 election.

Despite Democrats picking up crucial statewide offices, Republicans still hold a majority of the Statehouse and saw widespread success in state-level races.

“The more Georgians that vote, the better Republicans do,” Perdue said in a statement Tuesday. “These two current liberal U.S. Senators do not represent the values of a majority of Georgians."

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