David Perdue

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David Perdue
David Perdue, Official Portrait, 114th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Georgia
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Serving with Kelly Loeffler
Preceded bySaxby Chambliss
Personal details
Born
David Alfred Perdue Jr.

(1949-12-10) December 10, 1949 (age 70)
Macon, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Bonnie Perdue
Children3 (1 deceased)
RelativesSonny Perdue (cousin)
EducationGeorgia Institute of Technology
(BS, MS)
Net worth$15.8 million (2018)[1]
WebsiteSenate website

David Alfred Perdue Jr. (/pərˈd/; born December 10, 1949) is an American businessman and politician serving as the senior United States Senator for Georgia since 2015. A Republican, he is a first cousin of United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia. He became Georgia's senior senator after Johnny Isakson resigned on December 31, 2019.

Perdue's business career began with more than a decade as a management consultant at Kurt Salmon Associates. He later became vice president at Sara Lee Corporation, senior vice president of operations for Haggar Clothing, and president and CEO of Reebok. After a short stint at Pillowtex, Perdue became CEO of Dollar General. He later became a senior consultant at Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd. (GHCL). In 2010, Perdue was appointed to the Georgia Ports Authority. In 2011, he formed Perdue Partners, an Atlanta-based global trading firm, with Sonny Perdue.

Perdue ran for U.S. Senate in 2014. After winning the Republican primary, he defeated Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in the general election. Perdue is running for reelection in 2020.

Early life, education, and family[edit]

David Perdue was born in Macon, Georgia, the son of David Alfred Perdue Sr., and the former Gervaise Wynn, both schoolteachers.[2][3][4] David Perdue Sr. was the elected Democratic superintendent of schools for Houston County, Georgia, for twenty years, from 1960 to 1980, where he oversaw the desegregation of the school system during his tenure.[5]

Perdue was raised in Warner Robins, Georgia, and graduated from Northside High School in 1968.[6][7] He left Warner Robins to start school at the United States Air Force Academy on June 23, 1968, after receiving an appointment from Congressman Jack Brinkley of Georgia.[8]

Perdue did not finish at the Air Force Academy, but went on to earn a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering (1972) and a master's degree in operations research (1975), both from Georgia Tech.[9][10]

Perdue married Bonnie Dunn in August 1972.[11] The couple lives in Sea Island, Georgia.[12] The couple had a daughter who died in infancy[13] and have two sons, David A. Perdue III and Blake Perdue, and three grandchildren.[9][12] David Perdue Jr. is the first cousin of former Georgia governor and current United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.[14]

Business career[edit]

Perdue began his career at Kurt Salmon Associates, an international consulting firm, where he worked for twelve years as a management consultant.[15] His first major corporate job was as senior vice president of Asia operations for Sara Lee Corporation, a position he took in 1992. His time at Sara Lee was followed by a stint at Haggar Clothing, where he became senior vice president of operations in 1994.[16]

In 1998, Perdue joined Reebok as a senior vice president, eventually rising to president and CEO of the Reebok Brand.[17] He left the company in June 2002 to become the CEO of PillowTex.[18] Perdue is credited with significantly reducing the company's debt and reviving its sneaker line. Perdue negotiated a contract with the National Football League that a former Reebok executive referred to as "revolutionary" for repositioning the company's shoe brand.[3]

After Reebok, Perdue went to work as CEO of Pillowtex, a North Carolina textile company. The company had recently emerged from bankruptcy with a heavy debt load and an underfunded pension liability. Perdue was unable to obtain additional funding from the company's investors and later was unsuccessful in finding a buyer for the company. He left the company in 2003 after nine months on the job and $1.7 million in compensation. Pillowtex closed several months later, leaving 7,650 workers out of work nationwide. With more than 4,000 jobs lost statewide, the closing of Pillowtex resulted in the largest single-day job loss in North Carolina history at the time.[19]

After leaving Pillowtex, Perdue became CEO of Dollar General.[20] Prior to his joining the company, it had recently overstated profits by $100 million and paid $162 million to settle shareholder lawsuits. Perdue overhauled the company's inventory line and logistics network, and updated its marketing strategy. After initially closing hundreds of stores, the company doubled its stock price and opened 2,600 new stores.[3] Perdue is credited for arranging the sale of Dollar General in 2007 to private equity investors KKR. Perdue reportedly earned $42 million after the buy-out deal and Dollar General paid millions of dollars to settle shareholder lawsuits alleging that Perdue and other executives undersold shareholders.[21]

From 2007 to 2009, Perdue worked as a senior consultant for Indian chemical and textile conglomerate Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Ltd.[22]

In April 2011, he started Perdue Partners, an Atlanta-based global trading firm,[3] with his cousin, former Georgia governor, Sonny Perdue.[23] In 2012, Perdue Partners acquired Benton Express, an Atlanta-based logistics company.[24]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has described Perdue as having a "mixed" business record, but says that he was "known on Wall Street as a turnaround specialist who helps revive brands and reap rewards for investors."[3][21]

In May 2020, Perdue announced that his financial advisors would no longer buy and sell individual stocks after his portfolio was scrutinized during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.[25]

U.S. Senate[edit]

Perdue with Neil Gorsuch in 2017
Perdue with Brett Kavanaugh in 2018

2014 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Perdue touted his business experience, and particularly his experience at Dollar General, in running for political office as a Republican candidate. According to Perdue: "We added about 2,200 stores, created almost 20,000 jobs and doubled the value of that company in a very short period of time. Not because of me, but because we listened to our customers and employees." He received the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business.[26]

Perdue's political opponents targeted his business career during the campaign, specifically for outsourcing work offshore. Perdue said he was "proud of" finding lower-cost labor for some companies. Critics noted that he had contributed to a total of thousands of jobs lost following the final closure of Pillowtex, while Perdue left the company after nine months with a nearly $2 million buyout.[19][26] After being elected, Perdue stated that he wanted to bring the perspective of "a working person" to Washington, D.C.

Reports also highlighted the overlap between Perdue's role as a Director of the Georgia Ports Authority from 2010-2013 and his founding with his cousin and former Governor Sonny Perdue of Perdue Partners, which acquired in 2012 a global logistics firm that provided transloading services at the Georgia ports.[27][28]

The race was considered to be competitive. Perdue won the general election, defeating the Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn 52.89% to 45.21%.[29]

2020 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Perdue is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2020.[30]

During this campaign, Perdue ran an ad in which the nose of his opponent, Jon Ossoff, was enlarged; the use of an anti-Semitic trope was criticized as a dog whistle reference to Ossoff's Jewish heritage.[31][32][33] The ad also featured Ossoff's image next to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both of whom are Jewish, and said Democrats are trying to "buy Georgia," with a link to raise funds for Perdue's campaign.[31][32][33] Perdue's campaign pulled the ad after receiving criticism,[33] and said it was an "inadvertent error" and that his design firm had applied a filter which distorted the image.[31][32]

Tenure[edit]

At a 2018 campaign event for Brian Kemp, Perdue was asked a question about voter suppression by a student member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. Perdue snatched the student's phone, which was being used to record, away from the student.[34]

In June 2016, at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference, Perdue said, "We should pray for Barack Obama. But I think we need to be very specific about how we pray. We should pray like Psalms 109:8 says. It says, 'Let his days be few, and let another have his office'".[35] In a statement, Perdue's office clarified: "He in no way wishes harm to our president and everyone in the room understood that".[36]

With a net worth of $15.8 million, Perdue is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate.[1]

Committee assignments

Caucuses

Political positions[edit]

Environment and climate change[edit]

Perdue rejects that there is a scientific consensus on climate change.[37]

Perdue has criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and supported Trump's appointment of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, saying in 2017, "Outside of eliminating the EPA altogether, Scott Pruitt is the next best thing."[38] Perdue was one of 22 Republican senators to sign a letter to Trump, urging him to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.[39][40] According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Perdue has received over $180,000 from oil, gas and coal interests between 2012 and 2017.[40]

Donald Trump[edit]

Perdue is a close ally of Trump.[41][42] Some of Perdue's only public criticism of Trump centered on the issue of tariffs. Perdue was initially reluctant to support Trump's proposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum but came to support them.[41][43]

On January 11, 2018, Perdue attended a meeting at the White House where, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation, Trump called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries "shithole nations" and said the United States should not take in immigrants from these countries.[44] Perdue stated that he did not recall Trump making those specific statements.[45][46][47] Three days later, on ABC's This Week, Perdue said he now remembered that Trump did not use those words.[48]

During the coronavirus pandemic, Perdue praised President Trump's response.[49] Asked why he excoriated President Obama for his response to the ebola outbreak in 2014 but praised Trump's response to the coronavirus in 2020, Perdue said, "It's a totally different situation."[49] In September 2020, after February 2020 video recordings were released where Trump said he intentionally downplayed the severity of the coronavirus, Perdue defended Trump, saying, "I understand trying to manage the psyche of the country and also look at the actions that he took. ... I look at what he did -- and it was certainly a strong response."[50]

Economy[edit]

In December 2017, Perdue voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Perdue voted in favor of the 2017 budget, which could add as much as $1.5 trillion to deficits over ten years, because he said the tax cuts could lead to more revenue due to the economic growth they would encourage.[51]

He supports a constitutional balanced budget amendment.[52]

In September 2018, Perdue was one of six Republican senators (along with Jeff Flake, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey), as well as Bernie Sanders, who voted against a $854 billion spending bill for the Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor and Education departments, meant to avoid a government shutdown.[53]

Foreign policy[edit]

In April 2018, Perdue was one of eight Republican senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and acting Secretary of State John Sullivan expressing "deep concern" over a report by the United Nations exposing "North Korean sanctions evasion involving Russia and China" and asserting that the findings "demonstrate an elaborate and alarming military-venture between rogue, tyrannical states to avoid United States and international sanctions and inflict terror and death upon thousands of innocent people" while calling it "imperative that the United States provides a swift and appropriate response to the continued use of chemical weapons used by President Assad and his forces, and works to address the shortcomings in sanctions enforcement."[54]

In March 2017, Perdue co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), a proposed bill that would make it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[55][56]

In November 2019, Perdue blocked a vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide after receiving a White House request to do so.[57]

In January 2020, Perdue expressed support for the US military's assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani by drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport.[58][59]

Health care[edit]

Perdue supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[60] While running for re-election in 2020, Perdue claimed his proposed health care policy was that "health insurance should always cover preexisting conditions. For anyone. Period." PolitiFact rated this claim as "false", noting that Perdue supported policies that would allow insurers to not cover all pre-existing conditions.[61][62]

Immigration[edit]

In 2017, Perdue and Tom Cotton were co-sponsors of the RAISE Act, an immigration reductionist proposal that would cut legal immigration to the United States by 50% over a ten-year period, restrict family reunification part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, and create a points-based immigration system that would favor skilled immigrants.[63]

In June 2019, Perdue supported Trump's decision to place tariffs on Mexico unless illegal immigration from Mexico stopped. Perdue said, "He has to use a hammer. We're being invaded right now."[64]

Republican Senator Tom Cotton (left) with President Donald Trump and Senator David Perdue (right).

Education[edit]

Perdue opposes the Common Core plan, which Georgia Republican leaders adopted in 2010, and then turned against. Perdue said he supported "the original intent" of Common Core but took issue with "the details" and "how it's going to be administered," saying "Common Core has become overreaching and should be abandoned."[65]

Electoral history[edit]

U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Georgia, 2014[66]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Perdue 185,466 30.64%
Republican Jack Kingston 156,157 25.80%
Republican Karen Handel 132,944 21.96%
Republican Phil Gingrey 60,735 10.03%
Republican Paul Broun 58,297 9.63%
Republican Derrick Grayson 6,045 1.00%
Republican Arthur "Art" Gardner 5,711 0.94%
U.S. Senate Republican Primary Runoff election in Georgia, 2014[67]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Perdue 245,951 50.88%
Republican Jack Kingston 237,448 49.12%
U.S. Senate election in Georgia, 2014[68]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican David Perdue 1,358,088 52.89%
Democratic Michelle Nunn 1,160,811 45.21%
Libertarian Amanda Swafford 48,862 1.90%
Write-in Anantha Reddy Muscu 21 0.00%
Write-in Mary Schroder 14 0.00%
Write-in Brian Russell Brown 9 0.00%

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Perdue Campaign Releases New TV Ad: "Georgia Values"". Perdue Senate. October 24, 2014. Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bluestein, Greg (August 8, 2013). "David Perdue's business background looms large in Senate run". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  4. ^ Wynn-Perdue, Gervaise (1984). James A. Perdue and descendants, 1822–1984. G. Wynn-Perdue. ISBN 9780961347406.
  5. ^ "Houston home journal. (Perry, Houston County, Ga.) 1924-1994, December 04, 1980, Image 1 « Georgia Historic Newspapers". gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Hohmann, James (July 22, 2014). "Georgia Republican Senate runoff: 5 things to watch". Politico. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  7. ^ George, Tom (March 2, 2014). "David Perdue announces Senate bid in Warner Robins". WMAZ. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
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  22. ^ Cameron Joseph (October 13, 2014). "Perdue cut work in India from bio". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
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  24. ^ Topics, Transport (December 10, 2012). "Perdue Partners Acquires Benton Express". Transport Topics. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
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  26. ^ a b Chris Joyner (October 6, 2014). "Perdue 'proud' of outsourcing past, blames Washington for jobs lost". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  27. ^ Shannon McCaffrey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Perdue's trucking business overlapped with ports tenure". ajc. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  28. ^ Beasley, David (November 30, 2009). "Gov. Perdue Names New Ports Authority Board Members". Global Atlanta. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
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  33. ^ a b c Joseph Wilkinson (July 28, 2020). "Georgia senator enlarges nose of Jewish opponent in campaign ad, takes it down after being called out". New York Daily News.
  34. ^ Wang, Amy B. (October 14, 2018). "Senator Snatched Student's Phone While Being Asked About Georgia Voter Registration Uproar". Washington Post.
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  36. ^ Graham, David E. "Senator's Prayer for Obama: 'Let His Days Be Few'". The Atlantic.
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  46. ^ Ashley Killough, January 12, 2017, CNN, 2 Republican senators in Trump meeting say they don't recall 'shithole' comment, Retrieved January 13, 2017, "...We do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system,..."
  47. ^ Sean Higgins, January 14, 2017, Washington Examiner, David Perdue: Trump did not make 'shithole countries' comment, Retrieved January 14, 2017, "....Asked repeatedly is the president specifically used the words "shithole country," Perdue, who was present at the meeting, eventually said, "I am telling you that he did not use those words."..."
  48. ^ Kaplan, Thomas; Weiland, Noah; Shear, Michael D. (January 14, 2018). "Hopes Dim for DACA Deal as Lawmakers Battle Over Trump's Immigration Remarks". New York Times.
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  54. ^ Mitchell, Ellen (April 13, 2018). "Key senators warn Trump of North Korea effort on Syria". The Hill.
  55. ^ "Cosponsors - S.720 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Israel Anti-Boycott Act". www.congress.gov. March 23, 2017.
  56. ^ Levitz, Eric (July 19, 2017). "43 Senators Want to Make It a Federal Crime to Boycott Israeli Settlements". Intelligencer.
  57. ^ Swan, Jonathan. "Scoop: White House directed block of Armenian genocide resolution". Axios.
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External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Cal Turner Jr.
Chief Executive Officer of Dollar General
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Richard Dreiling
Party political offices
Preceded by
Saxby Chambliss
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Georgia
(Class 2)

2014, 2020
Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Saxby Chambliss
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Georgia
2015–present
Served alongside: Johnny Isakson, Kelly Loeffler
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Rounds
United States Senators by seniority
77th
Succeeded by
Thom Tillis