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Georgia: Can Trump’s influence unseat an incumbent governor?


David Perdue smiles into the camera as he tries to explain to Republicans in Georgia why he’s challenging their party’s sitting governor, Brian Kemp.

“Look, I like Brian. This isn’t personal,” the former GOP senator says in a campaign video.

Why We Wrote This

Primaries are by nature forward-facing, a time to select candidates for upcoming elections. But this year, some primaries seem stuck in 2020. That may be nowhere more true than in Georgia.

It may or may not be personal for Mr. Perdue. But for Donald Trump, his main backer, it almost certainly is. Since losing Georgia in the 2020 election – and then failing to convince Governor Kemp and others to overturn the results – Mr. Trump has made it a top priority to see those Republicans voted out of office.

Yet in one of the starkest tests of the former president’s ability to exercise his will over his own party, the effort appears to be coming up notably short. Going into Tuesday’s primary, Mr. Kemp is way ahead in the polls and has raised far more money than his rivals.

To many, Mr. Perdue’s lackluster campaign says something about Republican voters’ desire to move on – despite the suspicions many still hold about the 2020 election.

Eric Tanenblatt, who was chief of staff to Sonny Perdue, a former two-term GOP governor and cousin of David Perdue, agrees. “People are ready to look ahead to the future,” he says. 

Bonaire, Ga.

David Perdue smiles reassuringly into the camera as he tries to explain to Republican voters in Georgia why he’s challenging their party’s sitting governor, Brian Kemp.

“Look, I like Brian. This isn’t personal,” the former GOP senator says in a campaign video. “It’s simple. He’s failed all of us and cannot win in November.”

It may or may not be personal for Mr. Perdue. But for Donald Trump, his main backer, it almost certainly is. Since the former president lost Georgia by fewer than 12,000 votes in the 2020 election – and then tried unsuccessfully to convince Governor Kemp and other state officials to overturn the results – Mr. Trump has made it a top priority to see those Republicans voted out of office.

Why We Wrote This

Primaries are by nature forward-facing, a time to select candidates for upcoming elections. But this year, some primaries seem stuck in 2020. That may be nowhere more true than in Georgia.

He’s endorsed candidates up and down Georgia’s ballot for the May 24 primary, including a challenger to GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who resisted Mr. Trump’s demand to “find” more votes for him in 2020. The biggest target, however, is Mr. Kemp, whose primary opponent was directly recruited by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Perdue has centered his campaign almost entirely on the former president’s disproved allegations of widespread voter fraud. In a televised May 1 debate, he said he got into the race because Governor Kemp had “sold us out” in 2020 and wouldn’t be able to unite the party to defeat Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor.





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