Georgia Ousts Trump as Kingmaker

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Georgia voters rejected former President Trump’s ambitions to restructure some of the state’s highest posts on Tuesday. 

Trump-backed candidates were defeated in nearly all state GOP primaries by incumbents he promised to punish.


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Failures

Even though Trump was very involved in the state, three prominent Republicans who refused Trump’s attempts to change the 2020 election results won: Governor Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr.

One of Trump’s favorite candidates lost in Georgia, highlighting the limits of his retribution against his alleged Republican detractors.

They also offer the biggest hint to date that Trump’s hold on the GOP may be slipping as he focuses on his 2020 defeat and phony voting fraud accusations. 

Chuck Clay, a longtime state senator and Georgia GOP chair said, “I don’t want to suggest this is the end for him, but I do think the majority of Americans don’t want to think back.” 

For over a year, Trump campaigned to depose Kemp, Raffensperger, and Carr, favoring primary candidates who supported his bogus charges of voter fraud and election official malpractice. 

Each rival lost embarrassingly on Tuesday. Trump-backed David Perdue (R-GA) ended more than 50 points below Kemp, while Carr beat Trump-backed John Gordon by over 47 points. 


Raffensperger, who won by the lowest margin, beat Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) for the GOP’s secretary of state nomination, despite Trump’s interference. 

Prior to Tuesday’s primaries, Trump’s record was soiled. He backed gubernatorial contenders in Idaho and Nebraska who failed their primaries, as did Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). 

Disappointments

The past president is the first Republican presidential candidate to lose Georgia in 30 years. 

Trump’s endorsement didn’t determine Tuesday’s primary alone. Jay Williams, an Atlanta-based Republican consultant, said GOP supporters are reluctant to dump Kemp because conservatives like his record as governor. 

Williams claimed Trump’s endorsement was Perdue’s only asset. The former senator lost a runoff race to Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) last year and failed to pitch himself as more than Trump’s mouthpiece. 

The failures of Trump in Georgia, and the gubernatorial contest, in particular, were a big success for the Republican establishment. 

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) gave Kemp $5 million before the primary. In the last days of the contest, Doug Ducey, Pete Ricketts, and Mike Pence campaigned for Kemp in Georgia. 

The backed candidates’ losses may raise questions about Trump’s political limitations as he considers a 2024 presidential run. 

According to Republican analyst Keith Naughton, Trump has been an exception for years because of his vise-like grip on the GOP and its conservative core voters.


Since Trump left the White House last year, Naughton said, his political movement has formed a unique identity. Voters are less likely to follow Trump, he added. 

Trump was asking Georgians to follow the advice of a man in Florida. 

Trump’s willingness to support losing candidates in the Georgia primary has short-term ramifications for his party. He spent months criticizing Kemp, who will face Stacey Abrams in November.

Naughton said if Kemp loses, it’s on Trump. “He doesn’t plan beyond a day.”