Trump has taken a particularly active role in shaping the nation of governors, hiring former Sen. David Purdue to challenge incumbent Brian Kemp in retaliation for not lying about the theft of the 2020 election. And in an attempt to pave the way for Purdue, Trump pushed another Republican in the race – Vernon Jones – to run for Congress.
Trump returned to Georgia on Saturday night for a rally with Walker, Purdue, Jones and other Republicans that he supported before the state’s May 24 primary. The campaign is emerging as a preliminary, critical test of whether the former president will be able to play his role as a kingmaker in the GOP.
“I think it might start, I don’t want to use the word fall, but it could be the beginning of a diminishing effect,” said Eric Tenenblatt, former chief of staff to former Georgia Republican Gov. Sonny Purdue and a former fundraiser for David Purdue. The collector who is supporting the primary camp.
There are warning signs for Trump. While Walker is moving towards the primary with minimal opposition, the other races are more complicated. Jones, for example, is now competing in a crowded congressional primary where no one can clear the required 50% threshold to avoid a runoff.
Purdue, meanwhile, could pose a more high-profile challenge for the former president. He has struggled to raise money and has overtaken Kemp by 50% to 39% in a Fox News poll published this month. If that momentum is maintained, the camp will be within significant distance of winning the primary, avoiding the runoff.
Since the 2020 campaign, Trump has once again become obsessed with Republican strongholds, when he became the first GOP presidential candidate to lose the state in 28 years. If he decides to run for the White House in 2024, it could again be the focus of his political future.
This is why his activity in the state is particularly significant because Trump is essentially gathering voters behind candidates who could play a key role in certifying future elections where he is a participant. He has already shown a tremendous desire to pressure officials to reverse the results he does not like. In his tumultuous days in office, Trump pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, a conversation that is now the subject of a grand jury investigation in Atlanta.
Georgia’s results were verified after three recounts, including a partial handover. They all confirmed Biden’s victory.
Elsewhere, federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence that the election was rigged. Allegations of fraud by the former president were also rejected by the court, including by judges appointed by Trump.
Given the former president’s special attention to Georgia, a stalemate here could weaken his efforts elsewhere for champion candidates who have pledged allegiance to his views on the GOP, influenced by electoral lies and cultural clashes over race and gender issues. Some of those candidates are already fighting.
Trump on Wednesday revoked his approval of Alabama Republican Senate primary candidate Mo Brooks. He will travel to North Carolina next month to try to increase the selection of North Carolina’s controversial Senate primary, Republican U.S. Republican Ted Bud, who was behind former governor Pat McCrory in voting and fundraising. Trump’s choice in the Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary has dropped, and Trump has yet to field a candidate in the important but wounded party Senate primary in Ohio and Missouri.
A spokesman for Trump did not answer questions, but the former president, allies, said he was disappointed with Purdue’s failure to gain traction. Although Trump has great stock on his approval record, he still refuses to open his checkbook – even though his PAC has been opened with $ 120 million a year.
Meanwhile, some top national Trump opponents, including Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Trump has not backed down from seeking re-election even after promising for more than a year that he would be defeated.
Kemp, who is holding his own Saturday meeting with the Columbia County Republican Party in suburban Augusta, said he had $ 12.7 million in his main campaign account as of Jan. 31. It surpassed Purdue, who had less than 1 million in cash. January.
The current governor of Georgia has promised an initial investment of at least $ 4.2 million in TV commercials before the primary. Other Trump opponents are raising costs, including GOP 2.0, a super PAC founded by Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, who does not seek re-election but has been sharply criticized by the former president for defending Georgia’s 2020 election results.
Duncan, a Republican, says Trump’s approval is not a “gold ticket” as it once was, and his party is launching its first 30-second television spot to coincide with the former president’s rally. In it, Duncan denounces politicians who “rather talk about conspiracy theories and past losses, let liberal extremists lead us astray.”
“You almost feel bad for David Purdue. This (he) is walking away from the planks that Donald Trump has put up for him in Georgia, “Duncan said in an interview. “We’re going to see a rally that is going to confuse the Georgians again and who knows what Donald Trump is going to say,” Duncan said.
Referring to Trump, Duncan added, “He’s out to set a score, and that’s not a way to keep conservative leadership in power.”
Despite such concerns, Trump is not shying away. This week, he threw his support behind virtually unknown John Gordon to challenge Attorney General Chris Carr. He also backed Patrick Witt to go against Insurance Commissioner John King. Republican incumbents are statewide officials who are most closely linked to the main target of Trump’s wrath.
Randy Evans, Trump’s former ambassador to Luxembourg, said the former president had a lot of support above and below the Georgia ballot that would allow Trump’s preferred candidates to strengthen each other.
Evans said Saturday’s event could lift that group: “Trump-acquired media simply changes every dynamic.”
But Tennenblatt countered that Trump was trying to influence many nations – including the vague down-ballot – only to oppose the camp centered on the 2020 election, which has long been disposed of “almost undermining presidential approval.”
“I don’t think that’s because he’s a former president, and someone whom Republicans would rather like than President Biden. If he supports someone, it automatically means they’re going to win.”
Wizard reports from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed from New York.