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Georgia GOP gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue calls for law enforcement unit focused on election crimes

Then-Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) speaks on Dec. 10, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue on Thursday called for the creation of a state law enforcement unit focused on election crimes, offering a similar plan to one advanced last week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to set up a first-of-its-kind special police force to oversee elections in his state.

Perdue, who lost his U.S. Senate seat last year to Democrat Jon Ossoff, has touted his endorsement in the gubernatorial race by former president Donald Trump and echoed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential race in Georgia.

In announcing his proposal Thursday, Perdue took aim at incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who is seeking reelection and whom Trump has castigated for not intervening to alter the results in the 2020 presidential contest.

“Leave it to a 20-year career politician like Kemp to sit on his hands when we needed him most,” Perdue said. “He failed us, and Georgians lost confidence that their vote would count.”

In his proposal, Perdue said the Election Law Enforcement Division would be charged with enforcing election laws, investigating election fraud and arresting people who commit offenses.

“The purpose of this law enforcement unit is to give Georgians confidence that only legal votes will be counted, and that anyone who tries to interfere with our elections will be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.

Florida governor proposes special police agency to monitor elections

The proposal advanced last week by DeSantis has drawn heavy criticism from voting rights advocates, who argue that it will be used to intimidate voters, and only tepid response from Republicans in the Florida legislature.

DeSantis wants the GOP-controlled legislature to allocate nearly $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws. They would be stationed at unspecified “field offices throughout the state” and act on tips from “government officials or any other person.”

Perdue was narrowly forced into a runoff in the 2020 election, which he went on to lose to Ossoff early last year. Trump loomed over the contest, attacking the results of the election and using two pre-runoff rallies to air baseless claims about his defeat.

Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.