Supporters of Kemp’s Georgian counterattack after Trump rally
ATLANTA (AP) – Supporters of Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp are fighting Donald Trump and their own party leaders, angered by a rally last month in which the former president again attacked the chief executive of State.
Kemp supporters warn that a full embrace of Trump, his false allegations of electoral fraud and his vendetta against the governor for failing to attempt to undo Trump’s loss in Georgia last year could ruin Republicans’ chances in 2022 in the tightly divided state.
âRight now, we’re hip with Donald Trump, who doesn’t share the same interests,â said James Hall, member of the Savannah State Republican Party Committee. âHe wants to torpedo Brian Kemp.
Georgia is one of many states experiencing internal strife led by Trump. The former president also continues to disrupt internal party politics in Arizona, where he has targeted Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, and Wyoming, where he’s trying to oust Liz Cheney, the state’s only U.S. lawmaker. Trump is backing primary candidates across the country, continuing his drive to remake the Republican Party in his image.
The moment that crystallized the discontent of Kemp supporters was when Trump, repeatedly calling Kemp a “disaster,” twice suggested he would prefer Democrat Stacey Abrams as governor of Georgia. Abrams has become a national Democratic superstar even though Kemp beat her in 2018. Georgia Democrats are keen on her running for governor again in 2022.
“Stacey, would you like to take her place?” That’s fine with me, âTrump said at the rally in Perry, Georgia.
Hall and others fear a re-reading of the second round of the US Senate in 2021. Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have beaten Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, ceding control of the US Senate to their party. Turnout in that election fell more in Republican areas than Democratic areas, and Hall accuses Trump’s false story of fraud, saying it “scares people off the polls.”
Buzz Brockway, a former Republican state official who lost a main candidate for secretary of state in 2018, agrees. âIt’s a suicidal sect. This is what is happening, âhe said. “It doesn’t hurt Democrats.”
Others believe it will be more important in 2022 for the Republican Party to harness the energy of right-wing voters who are “genuinely dissatisfied” with President Joe Biden than to distance itself from Trump’s damaging rhetoric.
“When President Trump says something ironic about Brian Kemp, I think nobody really cares,” said Marci McCarthy, who chairs the GOP in the Democrat-dominated Atlanta suburb of Atlanta County. DeKalb. “I think more people are concerned about their everyday life.”
Kemp supporters are particularly angry with state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, who introduced the rally. Critics say Shafer violated party statutes requiring him not to choose sides in primaries by showing up at an event in which Trump repeated his support for several candidates. The State Party also raised funds for itself by selling VIP tickets for the rally.
Shafer, who continues to echo Trump’s bogus fraud claims and calls for a further audit of Georgia’s results, said on Monday that it was Trump’s event and not the party.
“When we accept a contribution or sponsorship from a Republican candidate to speak at an event, it does not mean that we endorse the candidate or agree with whatever the politician says,” he said. Shafer wrote in a letter to members of the state committee after Hall and others complained. .
His critics say it was predictable that Trump would attack Kemp. But Shafer said he was focusing on recruiting volunteers and raising funds to support a unified party after the primary.
âMy job is to focus on areas of agreement and not areas of disagreement with other Republicans,â Shafer said. âWe cannot win divided. We have to bring everyone together, and that’s what I’m going to do.
With Trump’s followers flocking to the grassroots and increasingly controlling the party apparatus, many Kemp supporters are out of power, and it is unclear whether their complaints will be successful. Days after the rally, the local Cobb County Republican Party – a former GOP stronghold that has leaned heavily towards Democrats in recent years – censored Kemp for not doing enough to stop illegal immigration.
Former Cobb GOP chairman Jason Shepherd resigned from the county party committee after the resolution passed.
âCobb’s Republican Party, when it should prepare to challenge Democrats, is fighting Republicans instead,â said Shepherd, who lost a bid to Shafer this summer to lead the state party.
More than a dozen County Republican parties have censored Kemp on some grounds this year, as has the District’s 7th Congressional GOP.
Young Republicans in Cobb County released a statement condemning their county party’s move and saying the group will support Kemp.
Although Trump supported Herschel Walker for the US Senate, State Senator Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor, and US Representative Jody Hice for Secretary of State, he was unable to nominate a candidate. as governor. Democrat-turned-Republican Vernon Jones spoke at Trump’s rally, but the former president did not give Jones the green light, despite Jones having built his campaign around allegations that Trump was defrauded in the 2020 election and courting Trump-aligned figures including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.
Over the summer, Trump supporters discussed the possible candidacy of the obscure mayor of a small town in Georgia. Trump’s PAC then commissioned a poll that showed Perdue could beat Kemp in a Republican primary if Trump approved Perdue. The former president added fuel to the blaze during his rally in Georgia when he pointed out Perdue among a handful of Republican Party leaders.
“Are you running for governor, David?” Trump asked. “Did I hear he was running?” “
For now, however, Kemp remains the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee next year – though it seems just as likely that he will continue to be pursued by Trump. Kemp’s supporters, at least, are tired of giving in to the ex-president’s taste for vengeance.
âWe’re giving a huge mic to a guy who criticizes our people and that’s how we’re going to slit our throats in 2022,â Hall said.
Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.