Former President Donald Trump is focusing most of his ire over losing the 2020 election on Georgia, where he will put his status as a GOP kingmaker on the line this weekend to turn voters against the state’s Republican governor and other party incumbents. He’s ready to win back his votes this time.
Trump announced a rally in Georgia to boost Perdue
Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in north Georgia on Saturday night to boost former U.S. Senator David Perdue, whom he recruited to run against Governor Brian Kemp, and Representative Jody Hice, who is squaring off against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Republican.
Who is coming to the rally?
Trump began a public quest to oust both incumbents after they refused to overturn his loss to Joe Biden. The rally will highlight other Trump-endorsed candidates, including former football star Herschel Walker, who is running to challenge Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.
Kemp’s holding good votes
But it’s the Republican gubernatorial primary that has the highest stakes for the former president. Polls show Perdue faltering and Kemp holding as much as a double-digit lead for the May 24 contest and nearly 15 times as much cash on hand.
A Kemp victory in the primary would represent an embarrassing setback for Trump, who in 2020 became the first Republican presidential candidate to lose the state in 28 years. It would provide the strongest incentive yet for segments of the party eager to move on from Trump and his false claims about the last election, and likely ease trepidation among 2024 presidential aspirants.
“Georgia will play a major role in determining Trump’s future,” Brian Robinson on Trump
“Georgia will play a major role in determining Trump’s future,” said Brian Robinson, a GOP consultant and top aide to former Governor Nathan Deal. “If his slate were to win, there is no one who would doubt that his word is practically messianic.
But he’s put a lot of chips on the table here, and it’s possible that there could be some high stakes losses- in which case it sends the signal that his grip has loosened.” This week, Georgia Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan’s advocacy group, GOP 2.0, released a television commercial urging GOP voters to look forward or risk losing to Democrat Stacey Abrams.
The Republican Party, which once had a firm grip on the state, can no longer count on winning elections. Abrams has become a nationally prominent voting rights advocate since losing to Kemp in 2018. And in the wake of Trump’s defeat in 2020, Perdue and Senator Kelly Loeffler, also a Republican, both lost a runoff election.
“A horrendous RINO who has betrayed the people of Georgia,” Trump on Brian Kemp
Trump’s attacks on Kemp have been relentless since the 2020 race, characterizing the conservative governor as a Republican in name only. “David is running against Brian Kemp, a horrendous RINO who has betrayed the people of Georgia, and betrayed Republican voters,” Trump said at a March 16 fundraiser for Perdue.
Georgians hold a “favourable opinion of Trump”
A News poll of Georgia Republicans released March 8 showed Kemp leading Perdue 50% to 39%. Perdue’s campaign argues that he leads Kemp among Republicans who say they are “extremely interested” in the primary and most likely to vote- and that 79% of Republicans had a favourable opinion of Trump.
Trump’s endorsement of Perdue gives the senator’s campaign a leg-up in Georgia
“President Trump is extremely popular among Georgia conservatives, and as word gets out about his endorsement of David Perdue, momentum for our campaign will only continue to grow,” Perdue campaign spokeswoman Jenni Sweat said in a statement.
Brian Pritchard, a North Georgia conservative who runs a webcast on state politics, expects the rally to help Perdue but says the primary contest “is definitely going to test the Donald Trump endorsement. If Kemp comes out of the primary, that’s going to be pretty tough for Donald Trump.” Trump boasts that his endorsement is the most valuable in politics, and that’s generally true in primaries.
Trump endorses John Gordon to avenge him against Chris Carr who “did absolutely nothing” about rigged election claims
On Tuesday, Trump endorsed John Gordon to challenge Georgia Republican Attorney General Chris Carr, who Trump said “did absolutely nothing” to address his rigged election claims. It’s one of nine endorsements Trump has made in Georgia so far, including state Republican Chairman David Shafer.
Mo Brooks Unendorsed
Trump on Wednesday withdrew his endorsement of Representative Mo Brooks in Alabama’s U.S. Senate GOP primary, blaming Brooks’s comments that the party should move on from the 2020 election. Brooks also lagged in fundraising and polling, threatening Trump’s endorsement record.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who represented the Atlanta area for 20 years, said Trump can help make the governor’s race close, but he’s putting his status as kingmaker on the line. “Every time you go out on a limb like that, if he does win, it strengthens him, if he doesn’t win, it weakens him,” Gingrich said. “He knows that, and I think that’s why you’ll see him work very, very hard the next few weeks to defeat Kemp.”