Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Trump’s bid to reshape the GOP faces the biggest hurdles in Georgia

ATLANTA ( Associated Press) — DONALD TRUMP Hopes to avoid a hard-fought defeat in the Georgia gubernatorial race on Tuesday as Republican primary voters predicted the fate of the former presidential hand-picked candidate to lead one of the most competitive political battlegrounds in America. decided.

A total of five states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota, were voting. But no one ate Trump and his lie more than Georgia that the 2020 election had been stolen.

After the current GOP government Brian Kemp refused to accept Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, the former president sought retribution by personally recruiting former Republican Sen. David Perdue. A primary challenge to mount. But Kemp emerged as a powerful fundraiser who harnessed the benefits of power. In the final days of the campaign he unveiled Savannah has plans for a $5.5 billion, 8,100-job Hyundai Motor Plant.

On the eve of the election, Perdue’s allies were set for a unilateral defeat, the only question being whether Kemp would win the 50% majority needed to avoid a runoff election the following month.

“We’re not going to have a runoff,” said Matha Zoller, a longtime Republican activist and northeast Georgia talk show host with ties to both Trump and Perdue. “It’s going to be embarrassing.”

The results may raise questions about where power resides within the GOP. While Trump remains deeply popular among the party’s most loyal voters, the early phase of the midterm primary season have shown that they do not always favor his choice. Meanwhile, other prominent Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal.

Trump’s own vice president Mike Pence rallies with Kempo on Monday evening in the Atlanta suburbs.

“Elections are about the future,” he told the crowd, “when you vote for Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will say yes to the future of freedom in Georgia. You will say yes to the most cherished values ​​we hold dear. “

Meanwhile, Trump held a telephone rally for Perdue, describing them as “100% MAGA.”

As 19-year-old Brody Nelson voted Tuesday in the Atlanta suburb of Woodstock, he said Trump’s influence in the gubernatorial race was a “big deal” in his decision to back Perdue.

“When Trump was in office, he did a lot more for this country, and he did a lot more to help small businesses and people who were struggling in the world than the rich and powerful,” he said.

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But 42-year-old land surveyor Nathan Johnston said he was voting for Gov. Kemp because of his leadership during the “tough four years.”

“Our economy is doing well in Georgia,” he said. “We haven’t had to shut down and work our way through the pandemic, and the economy is doing very well, so I think it reflects well on that.”

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats elsewhere were grappling with ideological and strategic divisions that would determine what kind of candidates to nominate and which issues to prioritize for November’s general election.

Democrats were particularly focused on a runoff election in South Texas., where longtime incumbent Representative Henry Kueller was facing a fierce challenge from progressive Jessica Cisneros in a race where abortion was a major issue. Cuellar is the last anti-abortion Democrat serving in the House.

Republicans were scheduling a series of low-profile primaries.

In Arkansas, former Trump aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders The Republicans were expected to claim the gubernatorial nomination. And in Alabama, conservative firebrand Rep. Mo Brooks was running to represent the GOP in the race to replace retired Sen. Richard Shelby., Brooks, a key figure at the January 6 “Stop the Steel” rally that preceded the Capitol attack, initially won Trump’s endorsement, though Trump rebuffed it after seeing Brooks struggle in the polls.

No state has had more consequential elections this week than Georgia, a longtime Republican stronghold that has moved Democratic in recent elections. Biden defeated Trump in Georgia in 2020 by less than 12,000 votes, and Democrats narrowly won both Senate seats two months later.

This year, Trump’s obsession with his 2020 losses fueled the Republican primary elections for governor, Senate and secretary of state.

Trump-backed former NFL star Herschelle Walker was set to win Georgia’s GOP Senate nomination After stopping conservative opponents who raised questions about his history of domestic violence. Walker will face the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Raphael Warnock, this fall.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, a key Trump ally Despite his first term notable for conspiracy theories and controversy, he was also expected to win his primary election in the state’s 14th congressional district.

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On the Democratic side in Georgia, two congressional functionaries, Reps. Lucy MacBath and Caroline Bordeaux, running against each other. In suburban Atlanta, a rare incumbent was forced into primaries after Republicans redrawn the congressional map.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Republican primary for governor—and the GOP’s secretary of state—contests – The presidential election of 2024 will have a direct impact on Georgia’s electoral system.

In the GOP primary for secretary of state, Trump railed against GOP incumbent Brad Riffensper, who refused to support the former president’s direct calls to reverse the 2020 election. Riffensperger faces three primary challenges, including those from Trump-backed Representative Jody Haise. The winner will serve as Georgia’s chief electoral officer in the 2024 presidential election.

Tuesday marked the first Georgia election under a new voting law adopted by a Republican-backed state legislature in response to Trump’s complaints. The changes made it harder to vote by mail, which was popular among Democrats in 2020 amid the pandemic; introduced new voter identification requirements, which critics warned could disenfranchise black voters; and expanded early voting to rural areas that typically vote Republican.

The new law also prohibits handing out food or water within 150 feet of a polling place, a practice common in urban areas where there are usually long voter lines.

Early turnout totals in Georgia suggested heavy voter interest – particularly on the Republican side.

According to the secretary of state, as of last Friday, 857,401 voters had cast early voting, including 795,567 who had voted early in person. This included 483,149 votes cast by Republicans and 368,949 by Democrats.

Those figures shattered early voting in the 2020 presidential election, when a total of 254,883 Georgians voted early.

Democrats underestimated voting inequality, noting that the state’s highest-profile contests were playing on behalf of Republicans.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison said, “While Democrats are uniting behind our candidates, Republicans are in chaos as they pursue an extreme agenda and try to outdo each other as the most MAGA candidate. Huh.”

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People reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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