Perry, Ga. – Prizes for an early Donald Trump endorsement were displayed in Georgia on Saturday when a three-man ticket from the candidates he supported in the 2022 Republican primary was featured at one of his signature rallies. But GOP opponents of Trump-backed candidates are not folding in Georgia and some say the former president’s approval could hurt Republicans in a general election in the closely divided state.
Trump’s endorsement is an obvious attempt to remake the Blitz Party in his image, with Republicans eagerly siding with him. But like everything about the former president, it’s a rules-rewriting approach, said Casey Dominguez, a professor of political science at the University of San Diego.
“We haven’t seen presidents in recent years trying to drive a wedge within their party, which happens in a primary election,” Dominguez said. He is doing factional politics in the party.
It’s easy to see why they want Trump’s support. He maintains overwhelming support among Republican voters. Ballotpedia, which tracks Trump endorsements, says the candidates he endorses have won 37 of 43 competitive primaries since 2017.
Trump joined the rally in Perry, about 100 miles south of Atlanta, backed by three candidates, including Herschel Walker, who recently launched a Senate campaign. Trump had urged the former football great to challenge Democratic US Sen. Raphael Warnock.
In his first public appearance since entering the race, Walker spoke about his relationship with Trump on Saturday, but urged his listeners to “come together as one people” and not bother others. did “because they disagree with you.”
Also speaking was US Representative Jody Haise, Trump’s pick against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Riffensperger. While Riffensperger rejected the former president’s urging to “find” enough votes to reverse Trump’s narrow defeat to Democratic President Joe Biden in Georgia, Hiss objected to Georgia voters in Congress.
Completing all three is Sen. Bert Jones, an early Trump supporter who pushed for measures to reverse Biden’s Georgia victory and is running for lieutenant governor.
The rally, however, was about Trump, who remains the star of his own show as many supporters arrived wearing Trump gear.
Despite a lack of credible evidence to support Trump’s allegations of massive voter fraud, the former president has continued to push the “Big Lie,” which he has turned into a litmus test for GOP candidates. Despite dozens of state and local election officials, several judges, and Trump’s own attorney general saying Biden won fairly, most Republican voters still believe the election was stolen.
Although some primary areas have been won with Trump’s support, this has not happened in Georgia.
Walker faces three other Republicans, including state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Black attacks Walker, saying that he has not been tested. On Monday, Black drew support from 55 state lawmakers, garnering support from 76 county sheriffs, former Governor Nathan Deal and former US Representative Doug Collins, once a Trump favorite.
“It’s okay to be a fan of football player Herschel Walker,” Black said. “But it is also okay to win back the Senate and save our country from the chaos that is right now. The Georgians need an electable alternative that can stand up to National Democrats and $100 million or more in attack ads.
Jones describes himself as an underdog in his primary against a powerful business-backed state senator, but has recently stated that the former president’s endorsement is “going to be a very loud intercom, this one There is someone who will truly stand up for his constituents and stand up for conservative values.”
However, Trump’s approval may be a liability in the general election. Trump lost narrowly in Georgia, and Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue lost the runoff for Senate seats to Warnock and John Osoff by a wide margin in January. Many people, including some Republicans, have said Trump’s insistent claims that the November 2020 election was rigged GOP runoff voting, giving Democrats control of the US Senate.
Democratic State Rep. Bea Nguyen, who is also running for secretary of state in 2022, said Trump’s endorsements are part of his “vendetta” against some Republicans. Nguyen said Trump’s activity would excite Democratic voters, as would a restrictive election law that Republicans passed this year.
“This will continue to mobilize our base as our base understands that voting rights are on the chopping block,” Nguyen said, adding that “relentless attempts to discredit the results of the November election” would fire Democrats. .
Some Republicans see it that way. GOP adviser Paul Shumaker noted in a June memo that polling showed voters in North Carolina were less likely to support a Trump-backed candidate and more likely to vote for a Biden-backed candidate.
“When a Trump-backed candidate is compared to a Biden-backed candidate, our advantage with unaffiliated voters evaporates,” Shumaker wrote. “Furthermore, Democratic gains increase with college graduates and suburban voters while rural votes soften somewhat for Republicans.”
Shoemaker working for the former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who is running against Trump-backed US Representative Ted Budd in the Republican Senate primary to replace retired Richard Burr. Shumaker said the poll was not paid for by McCrory.
Then the top Georgia Republican is not on the Trump ticket – Gov. Brian Kemp. Former Democrat Vernon Jones is openly giving Trump’s nod, but the former president withdrew his side while Trump supporters fielded other potential candidates.
Trump’s disdain for Kemp was evident on Saturday as he sarcastically suggested that he would prefer Democrat Stacey Abrams to the current governor. Abrams lost little to Kemp in 2018 and is considering whether to run again.
“Stacey, would you like to take her place? That’s fine with me,” Trump said.
Despite Trump’s retaliation for Kemp, the incumbent governor could secure detention with some Trump-backed candidates.
Walker hired a spokesman from Kemp’s office, a possible indicator Walker might have avoided attacking Kemp. His initial message has been more positive and less confrontational than Trump’s.
Kemp appeared alongside Hiss at a September 13 event to criticize the Biden administration’s legislative agenda. Kemp expressed hope that Republicans could unite in the opposition.
“The party needs to come together, we don’t need to be divided,” Kemp said. “It didn’t work for us in 2020.”