Donald Trump hopes to avoid a disastrous defeat in Georgia’s governorship election on Tuesday as Republican prospective voters determine the fate of a former presidential candidate who will lead one of America’s most competitive political battlefields.
A total of five states are voting: Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, and Minnesota. But no one has been more enamored with Trump and his lies that the 2020 election stole than Georgia.
After incumbent GOP Governor Brian Kemp refused to accept Trump’s unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, he sought retaliation by starting a major challenge by directly recruiting former Republican Senator David Perdue. However, this could prove to be a bad choice as Kemp emerges as a strong fundraiser who has taken advantage of his incumbent position. On the final day of the campaign, he unveiled a $5.5 billion Hyundai plant with 8,100 jobs near Savannah.
On the eve of the election, Perdue’s allies were preparing for a one-sided defeat. The only question was whether Kemp would get the 50% majority needed to avoid a runoff next month.
“I’m not going to vote in a runoff,” said Mata Joller, a longtime Republican activist and host of a Northeast Georgia talk show with ties to Trump and Purdue.
The results may raise questions about where power lies within the GOP. Trump still enjoys great popularity among the party’s most loyal voters, but the opening phase of the mid-primary season has shown that Trump doesn’t always support his choice. Meanwhile, other prominent Republicans are increasingly assertive.
In a clear example of the division among Republican senators, Trump’s own Vice President Mike Pence held a rally with Kemp in a suburb of Atlanta on Monday evening.
He told the crowd, “Elections are about the future.” “If you vote for Brian Kemp tomorrow, you’re going to say yes to the future of freedom here in Georgia. Everything we cherish.”
Perdue closed the day by saying that Stacey Abrams, a black man on his side and running for non-Democratic governor, was “degrading his race.”
Republicans have intensified their criticism of Abrams after Abrams said at a Democrat dinner on Saturday that “we’re tired of hearing that we’re the toughest state in America, but it’s the best state to do business.” Abrams said her remarks were meant to address Georgia’s grim ranking of mental health approaches and maternal mortality.
But in an interview Monday with conservative radio host John Fredericks and former Trump adviser Peter Navarro, Purdue went a step further. He compared the remarks to statements made by Abrams in 2018, when he argued that “Georgia shouldn’t have to work in agriculture or hospitality to make a living.” He claimed she was referring to black farmers.
“When she told the black farmers, there was no need to be on the farm. And when she told the black workers hospitality and all this … she was demeaning her race about it. ‘ said Perdue.
Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats are grappling with ideological and strategic divisions that determine which candidates to nominate and which issues to prioritize in the November general election.
Democrats have especially focused on the runoff in South Texas, where long-standing Congressman Henry Cuellar faces the fierce challenge of progressive Jessica Cisneros in a race where abortion is a prominent issue. Cuellar is the last anti-abortion Democrat in the House of Representatives.
Republicans will also decide on a series of prominent primaries.
In Arkansas, former Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders is expected to claim the Republican nomination for governor. And in Alabama, conservative Firebrand Senator Mo Brooks is running to represent the Republican Party in a race to replace retired Senator Richard Shelby. At a “Stop Steal” rally that preceded the attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, Brooks, a leading figure, initially won Trump’s support, but withdrew his support after watching Brooks struggle in opinion polls.
No state has more important elections this week than Georgia, a longtime Republican stronghold that transformed Democrats in recent elections. Biden defeated Trump in Georgia by a total of less than 12,000 votes in 2020, and Democrats narrowly defeated two seats in the Senate two months later.
This year, Trump’s obsession with defeat in 2020 is looming ahead of the Republican primary elections for Governor, Senate and Secretary of State.
Former NFL star Herschel Walker, backed by Trump, is poised to run for the Republican Senate nomination from Georgia after defeating conservative opponents questioning her history of domestic violence. Walker will face incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock this fall.
Trump’s key ally, Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene, is also expected to win the primary in the state’s 14th congressional district, despite a first term marred by conspiracy theories and controversy.
On the Georgia Democrat side, two incumbent Congressmen, Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, were vying for each other in the Atlanta suburbs, but after Republicans re-map Congress, they ran for a rare incumbent race.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s Republican primary for governor and the Republican primary for Secretary of State will have a direct impact on Georgia’s electoral system in the 2024 presidential election.
In a sign of anti-Trump resistance, Republican governors of Arizona, Nebraska and Maryland lined up behind Kemp, who refused to support Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 elections were stolen in Georgia and other swing states.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has suggested that Kemp’s victory would send a clear message to Trump.
“If Brian Kemp wins on Tuesday, he will prove that voters want their leaders to focus on mundane issues like high gasoline prices and rising crime, rather than indulge in the petty grievances of other politicians,” Hogan said.
In the Republican primary for Secretary of State, Trump denounced incumbent Republican Congressman Brad Raffensperger for refusing to direct the former president’s calls to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Raffensperger faces three major contenders, including Trump-backed Congressman Jody Hice. The winner will become Georgia’s Chief Election Commissioner in the 2024 election.
Tuesday is the first election held under a new voting law adopted by the Republican-backed state legislature in response to Trump’s unfounded complaints. This law made voting by mail more difficult. Vote-by-mail was popular among Democrats in 2020 during the pandemic. Introduced new voter identification requirements, which critics have warned could deprive black voters of their rights. and extended early voting in rural areas where they usually vote for Republicans.
The new law also prohibits the practice of distributing food or water within 150 feet of a polling place. This is a common practice in urban areas where there are usually long voting lines.
Georgia’s early voting totals indicate tremendous voter enthusiasm, especially on the Republican side.
According to the Secretary of State, by the end of Friday, 857,401 voters had pre-voted, of which 795,567 voted in person. This includes 483,149 Republicans and 368,949 Democrats.
This number shattered early voting turnout, with a total of 254,883 Georgians voting early in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats downplayed the voting gap, noting that the state’s most visible primary is being run on the Republican side.
Jamie Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said: “While the Democrats support our candidate, the Republicans are in chaos because they have an extreme agenda and try to outdo each other.”
People reported in Washington.