First, Trump became the first Republican to lose Georgia in a presidential election in 28 years, in 2020.
Then Georgia became the focal point of Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud as he pushed state officials to nullify the election results – actions that are currently being investigated by a Atlanta area attorney.
And to top it off, despite (or perhaps because of) Trump’s best efforts, Republicans lost two Senate seats in Georgia in January 2021, leaving Democrats in control of the chamber.
Now one of the former president’s top targets for defeat in 2022 — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, one of the officials who refused to go along with Trump’s election plans — has a decisive lead in the polls before the May 24 primary. And a growing list of top Republicans, including former Trump allies, are rushing to help Kemp cross the finish line — and deliver a blow to the former president.
Former Vice President Mike Pence announced on Friday that he would side with Kemp as the governor seeks to fend off a lead challenge from Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue. It marks one of the biggest splits yet for Pence from his former boss, whom he also called by name earlier this year for claiming Pence had the ability to nullify the election of 2020 as Vice President.
Pence is far from alone. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who helped defeat a Trump-endorsed candidate in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary this week, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who drew Trump’s ire for having certified Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, are also expected to campaign for Kemp. Ricketts and Ducey co-chair the Republican Governors Association, which took the unusual step of intervening in the primary to run ads on Kemp’s behalf.
Joining Ricketts and Ducey on the trail will be former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former Trump adviser who became a vocal critic of the former president. Like Pence, Christie may be eyeing his own run for the White House in 2024.
And former President George W. Bush is expected to headline a fundraiser for Kemp next week.
Add it all up and it equals the GOP’s most concerted effort to hand Trump a midterm election defeat to date.
It’s worth noting that if Kemp weren’t in such a strong position — he might even eclipse the 50% mark in the primary needed to avoid a runoff — these Republicans might not have been so strong. comfortable holding his own against Trump, who remains the dominant figure in the party.
Even though they’re just a minority, there’s clearly still a slice of the Republican Party that just doesn’t want to go down every avenue Trump takes them. And symbolically, there are few better places for these Republicans to take a stand than Georgia.
Point: A loss in Georgia would do little to threaten Trump’s status as GOP leader. But given his history there and the Republicans who lined up against him, that would be particularly scathing.