Photo by John Bazemore of The Associated Press / Republican candidate for Georgia governor, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, speaks on May 3, 2022, in Rutledge, Ga.

Back in 2020, I accused then-U.S. Sen. David Perdue of cowardice in quickly buying into the defeated president's Trumpian lies about a stolen election.

I called it "Profiles in Toadying," a craven effort to save his political hide.

But I may have been wrong about Perdue: It takes guts to go out and so publicly make a fool of oneself.

The man who made a fortune as a Captain of Industry and then became a member of the exclusive Club U.S. Senate will ultimately be remembered as a failed politician who first got Ossoffed in a runoff election and then prostrated himself to Donald Trump in a bid for a political comeback.

Perdue's campaign for governor was simply a howl of aggrievance at perceived wrongs done to him and Donald Trump. But now that campaign is imploding in epic fashion.

On Tuesday, my Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleagues authored a piece headlined "Where in the world is David Perdue?"

With just a week to the primary, the candidate for the state's biggest government job has largely gone dark.

Republican Congressman Drew Ferguson recently said Perdue's campaign is "on life support."

In March, a Fox news poll had Perdue within reach of Kemp, 50% to 39%. Last month, Kemp's lead grew to 53% to 27% in an AJC poll of likely voters in the Republican primary.

It's been a bad spell for the Perdue campaign.

Last week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney delivered Perdue a proper judicial spanking on the election lawsuit that defined his candidacy. The suit, filed just four days after he launched his campaign, was a compilation of the Stop the Steal's greatest hits.

McBurney, a former federal prosecutor with a built-in BS-detector, plodded through the voluminous screed before determining what he had been forced to read was "speculation, conjecture, and paranoia — sufficient fodder for talk shows, op-ed pieces, and social media platforms, but far short of what would legally justify a court taking such action."

The ruling was his legalese way of saying, "Counselor, please remove this steaming pile from my bench!"

There are a few other warm bodies in the GOP primary, but Kemp is intent on getting a 50%-plus vote tally to avoid a runoff that might give Perdue oxygen.

Kemp has been trotting around the state, conducting ceremonial bill signings to tout his legislative victories and is importing GOP stars like former Vice President Mike Pence to gain a last-minute flourish.

In 2014, a blue jean jacket-wearing Perdue earned a longshot victory running as an outsider for an open U.S. Senate seat. In 2016, the AJC wrote about Perdue's "star on the rise." Now it seems he's quietly looking for a soft landing.

I sent a few questions to his campaign but didn't hear anything.

I called former state Sen. Eric Johnson, who was on the ground-floor of the GOP takeover of Georgia in 2002, a movement headed by the surprise gubernatorial victory of Perdue's cousin, Sonny.

Sonny, recently installed as head of Georgia's university system with Kemp's blessing, is sitting this one out.

Charlie Harper, a conservative writer who now works in public policy, recently wrote: "It's as if he's been sent on a kamikaze mission from former President Donald Trump, without getting the memo that kamikaze pilots are generally not around to receive their distinguished service medals."

I get it, nobody wants the spotlight to dim. Perdue reminds me of just about every boxer ever who retires, reconsiders, and returns for an ill-fated comeback — myself included. I gave it up and returned two years later for the Golden Gloves.

I promptly received the old Leather Shampoo.

A little advice for the senator: Ice packs work.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution