Former Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia's gubernatorial primary, turned up the heat on the Republican incumbent Thursday by throwing his support behind a controversial campaign to turn a wealthy Atlanta enclave into its own city.

"I trust the people of Buckhead," Perdue told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I think the city of Atlanta has tremendous problems, just like every other Democrat-run city in the nation."

Perdue's comments instantly make the issue a key divide in his challenge against Kemp.

Kemp, who has faced the wrath of former President Donald Trump for failing to overturn the presidential election results in his favor, has largely kept quiet about the divide, though in the past, he has complained about the lack of leadership in Georgia's largest city.


Supporters of Buckhead City say the new city would finally give residents control over issues such as infrastructure and crime and allow police officers to go after criminals without the fear of retribution. Critics claim crime isn't unique to Buckhead and argue that forming a new city isn't a miracle cure. They also believe it could stoke racial divisions between Buckhead, an overwhelmingly wealthy white area, with the rest of Atlanta, which is known as the "Black Mecca" of the South. Critics also argue that if Buckhead leaves Atlanta, it would take millions of dollars in tax revenue with it, crippling the capital's budget.

Atlanta is the country's ninth-largest city.

Perdue's endorsement comes on the heels of the Atlanta Board of Education formalizing its objection to the proposed Buckhead City.

Board members unanimously approved their list of legislative priorities for the 2022 session of the Georgia General Assembly. Among their goals: "Oppose legislation that would allow for the deannexation of the Buckhead community from the city of Atlanta."

The campaign to separate Buckhead from Atlanta has caused controversy in Georgia's capital city.
The campaign to separate Buckhead from Atlanta has caused controversy in Georgia's capital city. (Sean Davis/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Last week, Atlanta's new Mayor-elect Andre Dickens said he is against a Buckhead split as well.

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who announced her candidacy for governor last week, also opposes the split.

"Stacey opposes dividing our city," campaign spokesman Seth Bringman said. "Just as she is running for governor to create One Georgia, in which all people regardless of ZIP code, background, or access to power have the opportunity to thrive, she believes in a united Atlanta."

State lawmakers are expected to consider a bill backed by Republican lawmakers outside of Atlanta that would allow Buckhead residents to vote whether they should form their own city.


The Buckhead City Committee, headed by Bill White, who moved to the area with his husband Byran Eure three years ago, told the Washington Examiner that the push to make Buckhead its own city has more to do with soaring crime rates and feeling abandoned by Atlanta and nothing to do with race or wealth.

Once dismissed as a pipe dream, White's campaign has gained traction and caught the attention of some high rollers. He has raised more than $1 million.