As he works to fend off a Republican Party primary challenge from Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue, conservative Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will get some last-minute help from a very high-profile surrogate.
Former Vice President Mike Pence will join Kemp on the campaign trail on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 primary, the Kemp campaign will announce on Friday. Word of Pence’s trip to the Peach State to team up with the governor was shared first on Friday morning with Fox News and two other news organizations.
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Pence, a former Indiana governor before serving as vice president under former President Donald Trump, has been crisscrossing the country the past 15 months, helping to support and raise money for fellow Republicans running in the 2021 and 2022 elections. Members of the former vice president’s political team have been assisting the Kemp reelection team in recent months and top Pence aide and adviser Marc Short came on board a week and a half ago as a senior adviser to the governor’s campaign.
“Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America,” Pence said in a statement. “He built a safer and stronger Georgia by cutting taxes, empowering parents and investing in teachers, funding law enforcement, and standing strong for the right to life.”
The former vice president also emphasized that “Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia. I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”
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The governor praised Pence, highlighting that “the Vice President’s leadership was instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia, and his commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party.”
Four years ago, with the support of Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after the governor certified President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election following multiple recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has now returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp.
Trump for months urged Perdue to challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid. Perdue declared his candidacy a few days after Abrams, an election reform champion and rising star in the Democratic Party, launched her second straight bid for governor. Trump held a rally with Perdue in Georgia a month and a half ago.
But regardless of Trump’s endorsement and support, with less than two weeks to go until Georgia’s primary, Kemp enjoys large leads over Perdue in two key campaign metrics — public opinion polling and fundraising.
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The governor’s getting plenty of high-profile company in the closing days of his primary campaign. Kemp, who enjoys the backing of the Republican Governors Association, will be joined in the coming days on the campaign trail by RGA co-chairs Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. And Fox News was first to report on Thursday that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a past RGA chair, will join Kemp for campaign stops in Canton and Alpharetta, Georgia, next Tuesday, May 17.
Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary – to a degree – appears to be turning into a 2024 GOP presidential nomination proxy war.
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Trump, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in the 2022 GOP primaries, repeatedly teases another White House run in 2024. Meanwhile, Pence is making all the moves necessary in advance of a potential presidential run.
Christie, who unsuccessfully ran for the 2016 GOP nomination, has also publicly discussed his interest in making another presidential bid in 2024.