ATLANTA – Bristling with defeat in Georgia, President Donald Trump increasingly believes Gov. Brian Kemp did not do enough to deliver him a victory or challenge the state’s election results. Now, sources close to the president – and Republicans in Georgia – say it’s a given that Trump will help defend Kemp’s main challenger when the Republican is re-elected in 2022.
“It’s a done deal,” a veteran Trump political adviser said.
According to two people who discussed Kemp with the president this month, Trump has largely focused on how Kemp would be “nothing” without him or his endorsement in the 2018 governor’s primary. The president also mentioned that he was eager to raise money and campaign against Kemp in Georgia, in the likelihood that a GOP main challenger would emerge.
One of the sources said Trump privately compared his desire to see Kemp’s political future ruined to how he wanted to see the political implosion of his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in an attempt to return this year to Alabama.
Kemp’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. But not all of the president’s allies thought challenging the governor would be a good idea.
“It’s not wise because if you haven’t learned anything from the Senate race this year, you could at least say having two good candidates almost cost us the seat,” said former Rep. Jack. Kingston (R-GA). “So I think Georgia no longer has the luxury of having a split Republican primary and then winning in November.”
Trump did not appear to be concerned about such considerations. Publicly, he played with the recruitment of a main challenger to Kemp. On stage in Georgia at a recent rally for the GOP Senate candidates, he turned to his close ally, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and asked, “You want to run for governor. in two years?” The crowd of thousands erupted with cheers and applause at the very suggestion.
Collins, who led Trump’s recount efforts in Georgia after failing to run in the second round of the U.S. Senate election, responded diplomatically but in a way that does not rule out a possible candidacy. At a December rally for the Senate in his hometown of Gainesville, the outgoing congressman told the Daily Beast, “The only political decision I can think of right now is to get these two senators elected. When asked if he was ruling it out, he refused to expand beyond his initial statement.
The incumbent president’s continued obsession with revenge on Kemp has spread throughout his world of devoted followers and allies. In a column describing his vision for the future of the Trump movement last week, campaign adviser Steve Cortes explicitly called for the elimination of Kemp in the 2022 cycle.
“[S]Serious candidates must also be equipped to challenge the many Republicans who have failed our movement in recent weeks, “he wrote,” like Governor Kemp of Georgia … “
“[S]Serious candidates must also be equipped to challenge the many Republicans who have failed our movement in recent weeks, such as Governor Kemp of Georgia …“
– Trump Councilor Steve Cortes
Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted encouragement for Herschel Walker, former University of Georgia football star and GOP backup, to run against Kemp. “Think about it mate,” said Trump Jr.
Trumpworld’s efforts to get revenge on Kemp have angered various Republican officials and agents who fear the president may be zapping the necessary enthusiasm for the GOP candidates currently in the second round of the Senate in Georgia.
In Georgia GOP circles, the scorched earth campaign against Kemp has sparked debate about Trump’s continued grip on the Republican Party and how long he can stoke his base’s resentment over the outcome. of the 2020 elections.
“I expect the governor to be fine,” said a prominent Georgian Republican, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the delicate political situation in the state. “I don’t expect him to get beaten in primary. He may very well be primaried … It’s a difficult battle. You talk about millions of dollars to eliminate an incumbent governor.
This Republican argued that Kemp was able to pull Georgia out of the coronavirus pandemic and improve its reputation through the distribution of vaccines and economic reopening campaigns, things that could move the 2020 election into the world. spirit of GOP voters.
Other Republicans in the state aren’t so optimistic about Kemp’s chances.
“Brian Kemp thinks he can weather this storm. He can’t, ”Debbie Dooley, the founder of the Atlanta Tea Party and a constant critic of the governor, told The Daily Beast. “It’s like he’s the captain of the Titanic. His governorship is down. He hit an iceberg.
Within Georgia’s conservative base, the relentless repetitions of Trump’s election plots cemented the belief that it was fundamentally corrupt and that elected officials across Georgia – all Republicans – were complicit in this corruption. . Many right-wing voters followed their clues. At so-called “stop the theft” rallies around the state, attendees held up signs reading “Kemp Primary!”
“Kemp has no more prayers,” said Carol Susan Cook, a Gainesville resident who went to see Sarah Palin and Collins come together to support the senses. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) in December 11. Cook referred to conspiracy theories promoted by the President’s legal team regarding Dominion electoral systems and felt that Kemp was at the heart of these.
Kemp took the trouble to note that he was still in Trump’s sphere, if only physically. On Friday night, he posted photos to his official Twitter account, announcing that he had “had a great time at the @WhiteHouse Christmas party.” The tweet has not gone unnoticed in Trump’s political and legal orbit. On a Sunday radio show, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani obliquely mocked Kemp for getting lost during the visit. Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to Trump and his 2020 campaign, responded to Kemp’s post with a terse response: “Seriously? “
“I am disgusted and disappointed with Republican leaders, including Kemp, who actively refuse to uphold the laws of their own states, which were clearly violated during the administration of the 2020 elections.” Ellis said in his follow-up comments: “Now is the time for Conservatives to truly retain our Constitution and rule of law for electoral integrity – not just brazenly running for a party while ignoring their responsibilities.
“I am disgusted and disappointed with Republican leaders, including Kemp, who actively refuse to uphold the laws of their own states, which were clearly violated during the administration of the 2020 elections.“
– Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis
While other figures are mentioned as possible main challengers – like Lin Wood, the pro-Trump lawyer who has advanced the most bizarre election conspiracies – the clear favorite of Republicans in Georgia who would like to see a Kemp challenger is Collins. Dooley, who backed Collins’ Senate bid against Loeffler, said he would “clear the field” if he chose to run and encouraged him to do so as soon as the January second round ended.
Collins and Kemp already have tensions between them. When Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced his retirement in 2019, giving Kemp a vacant Senate seat, Collins – who was Trump’s preferred choice for the vacant post – expressed interest. Kemp, a Georgia Republican told the Daily Beast, ordered the congressman to apply through an online portal, which the agent said was an “insult.”
Trumpworld later had the distinct impression that Kemp had always intended to choose Loeffler, and presented his appointment as inevitable, the Washington post reported.
Collins’ allies say he would not run against Kemp out of spite for being kicked out of the Senate. But he could if the political benefits to him were clear and several GOP insiders believe the congressman, who will be removed from office in January, gives it serious thought.
“I can’t imagine not being interested,” said a GOP agent in the state. “This is a very good offer, and you can’t do without it.”
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