Georgia rally to mark GOP primary ‘Trump ticket’ debut
ATLANTA – The rewards of Donald Trump’s early endorsement will be on display in Georgia on Saturday when a ticket of three candidates he supports in the 2022 Republican primaries is presented at one of his signing rallies. But GOP opponents of Trump-backed candidates are not retreating to Georgia, and some say the former president’s nod could hurt Republicans in a general election in the much divided state.
Trump’s approval blitz is a candid attempt to continue to remake the party in his image, with Republicans eagerly courting his favor. But like everything else about the former president, this is a rule-rewriting approach, said Casey Dominguez, professor of political science at the University of San Diego.
“We haven’t seen any presidents in recent years trying to sow discord within their own party, which happens in a primary election,” Dominguez said. “He practices factional politics within the party.
It’s easy to see why they might want Trump’s backing. He maintains overwhelming support among Republican voters. Ballotpedia, which tracks Trump’s endorsements, says the candidates he has backed have won 37 of 43 competitive primaries since 2017.
Trump will be joined at the rally in Perry, about 100 miles south of Atlanta, by three candidates he has backed, including Herschel Walker, who recently launched a Senate campaign. Trump urged the former great footballer to challenge U.S. Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock.
U.S. Representative Jody Hice, Trump’s choice over Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, will also speak. While Raffensperger turned down the ex-president’s pleas to “find” enough votes to reverse Trump’s slim loss to Democratic President Joe Biden in Georgia, Hice clashed with Georgian voters in Congress.
State Senator Burt Jones, an early supporter of Trump, who pushed to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia and is running for lieutenant governor, rounds out the trio.
The rally, however, will likely center on Trump, who remains the star of his own show. Supporters arrive in Trump clothes and sometimes say they’ve never heard of the people he supported.
Despite a lack of credible evidence to back up Trump’s claims of massive electoral fraud, the former president continued to push the “Big Lie” he won, turning it into a litmus test for GOP candidates. A majority of Republican voters continue to believe the election was stolen, despite dozens of state and local election officials, numerous judges, and Trump’s own attorney general claiming Biden won fairly.
Although some main areas have been winnowed by Trump’s endorsement – including in Wyoming where some Republicans dropped a primary against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney after Trump called in challenger Harriet Hageman – it didn’t. not produced in Georgia.
Walker faces three other Republicans including Gary Black, the state’s agriculture commissioner. Black attacked Walker, saying he was untested. On Monday, Black rolled out the approvals of 55 state lawmakers, placing them atop the approvals of 76 county sheriffs, former Gov. Nathan Deal and former U.S. Representative Doug Collins, a former Trump favorite.
“It’s good to be a fan of Herschel Walker the football player,” said Black. “But it’s also good to want to win back the Senate and save our country from the chaos it is in now. Georgians need an eligible choice that can stand up to the National Democrats and $ 100 million or more. in attack advertisements.
Jones describes himself as an underdog in his primary against a powerful corporate-backed state senator, but said after an appearance Wednesday with Donald Trump Jr. that the former president’s backing “is going to be a pretty loud intercom saying that he is a guy who will really defend his constituents and defend conservative values. ”
Trump’s nod, however, could be a handicap in a general election. Trump narrowly lost in Georgia, and Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue lost the second round of Senate seats to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff by wider margins in January. Many, including some Republicans, have said Trump’s insistent claims that the November 2020 election was rigged reduced the GOP’s turnout, handing over control of the U.S. Senate to Democrats.
Democratic state representative Bee Nguyen, who is also running for secretary of state in 2022, said Trump’s endorsements were part of his “vendetta” against some Republicans. Nguyen said Trump’s activity would excite Democratic voters, as would a restrictive election law Republicans passed this year.
“He will continue to mobilize our base because our base understands that voting rights are at stake,” said Nguyen, who also predicted that “the constant efforts to discredit the November election results” would inflame Democrats.
Some Republicans also see it that way. GOP consultant Paul Shumaker noted in a June memo that polls showed voters in North Carolina were less likely to support a candidate endorsed by Trump and more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Biden.
“By comparing a candidate approved by Trump to a candidate approved by Biden, our advantage with unaffiliated voters evaporates,” Shumaker wrote. “Additionally, the Democratic advantage widens with college graduates and suburban voters while the rural vote softens somewhat for Republicans.”
Shumaker works for former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who is running against Trump-endorsed U.S. Representative Ted Budd in a Republican Senate primary to replace the retiring Richard Burr. Shumaker said the poll was not paid for by McCrory.
Party leaders have historically been reluctant to interfere in primaries, and when they did, it sometimes backfired. In 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt intervened to support the liberals and defeat the conservatives who opposed his program. Roosevelt’s record was decidedly mixed. Conservative Democratic incumbents such as Georgia Senator Walter George have survived, and Republicans have made big gains overall.
Former President Barack Obama, for example, waited until the primaries were settled last year before giving his endorsement. But some liberals have attempted to shape the Democratic Party with mainstream backers, including Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders and United States Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York.
Then there’s Georgia’s top Republican who isn’t on the Trump ticket – Governor Brian Kemp. Former Democrat Vernon Jones is openly wooing Trump’s nod, but the former president has withheld his favor while Trump supporters have put forward other possible candidates.
Despite Trump’s continued contempt for Kemp, the outgoing governor could get some detente with some of the Trump-backed candidates.
Walker hired a spokesperson from Kemp’s office, a possible indicator Walker could avoid attacking Kemp. His first post was more positive and less confrontational than Trump.
Kemp appeared with Hice at an event on September 13 to criticize the Biden administration’s legislative agenda. Kemp then expressed hope that Republicans could unite in opposition.
“The party needs to come together, we don’t need to be divided,” Kemp said. “It didn’t work for us in 2020.”
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