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Georgia's Rivian deal a political wedge near future plant

Drew Kann, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Business News

Kemp’s chief Republican rival, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, has tried to use Rivian to peel off disgruntled voters by staging rallies in tiny Rutledge and slamming the project as an election-year giveaway during debates.

But his efforts to make the issue resonate with voters statewide haven’t shown much success as Perdue trails Kemp by double-digits in polls.

Perdue’s tactics also are at odds with the positions taken by past Republican and Democratic governors, who have long encouraged business development in the state, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

“All of this makes the position that David Perdue has taken with Rivian very much un-Republican,” Bullock said.

Though his stance on Rivian does not appear to be resonating statewide, it may be working to attract some voters living close to the future plant, like George and Penny West.

The Wests live in a modest blue house deep in the woods on land once part of a dairy farm owned by Penny’s father.

“There was always a strong effort by this county to be different ... to try and hold back the onslaught from Atlanta,” George West said. “I mourn the loss of rural nature that this place is going to face and it irritates me that there are public officials who don’t seem to realize that, or don’t care.”

 

The Wests call themselves moderates. They are no fans of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and find laughable Perdue’s embrace of former President Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims. They’re also devoted environmentalists.

They say they “probably” voted for Kemp in 2018, but will vote for Perdue in the upcoming primary.

Pastor Lonnie Brown lives in Stone Mountain but preaches at two churches in Morgan County. He grew up roughly 15 miles from where Rivian will be located.

Brown said childhood friends left Morgan County for better jobs. He said he hopes the factory will give local kids a reason to stay.

“That’s very important to our community,” Brown said.

©2022 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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