Brian Kemp staves off Trump’s effort to oust him in Georgia

Governor faced rebuke over refusal to interfere in 2020 election

John Bowden
Wednesday 25 May 2022 01:33
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Pence holds last-minute rally for Kemp

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp won his primary on Tuesday, in a victory that will send ripples through the Republican Party and send a clear message to former president Donald Trump.

Mr Kemp never faced a significant danger from his main opponent, David Perdue, who despite winning Mr Trump’s endorsement failed to make major traction in the race and trailed the governor by roughly 50 points when the race was called by the major networks at 8.30pm.

The former senator represented Mr Trump’s effort to oust a GOP state leader whom he viewed as disloyal after the 2020 election, when Mr Kemp and others in the state like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused the then-president’s requests for them to intervene somehow and reverse his defeat to Joe Biden.

Mr Kemp’s victory was buoyed by his strong conservative credentials in the state. He has signed bills into law that focus on a number of contemporary conservative concerns, including the teaching of so-called critical race theory and the right’s effort to clamp down on transgender students, preventing them from participating in school sports with their gender.

Mr Trump had made a small but rare contribution to the race itself by throwing half-a-million dollars behind groups supporting Mr Perdue, and campaigned with the ex-senator at a tele-rally on the eve of the primary. It wasn’t enough to oust the governor, however, who now advances to the general election for a rematch with Stacey Abrams.

Ms Abrams previously battled Mr Kemp in 2018, when he was first elected to the governor’s mansion with then-President Trump’s support. He now holds an incumbent’s advantage, while Ms Abrams has spent several years building a voter registration operation in the state.

Part of the reason for the race’s significance is the split between Mr Trump and his former vice president, Mike Pence, who took the rare step of campaigning in Mr Kemp’s camp as the primary concluded in what could only be read as a very public challenge to his former boss.

Mr Pence is thought, according to numerous media reports, to be considering a 2024 run for president even if Mr Trump runs again, and has been quietly maintaining his profile among the GOP’s various circles since leaving office last year.

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