Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s relentless campaign to convince voters of his debunked claim that he was cheated out of victory in his 2020 run for reelection is on the ballot again Tuesday, with two high-stakes Republican primary elections in the Southern state of Georgia.
Trump is trying to defeat two Georgia officials: Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The latter, the state’s chief election official, angered Trump by rejecting his claims that Democrat Joe Biden had won the state in a fraudulent vote count. Both Kemp and Raffensperger are facing Trump-endorsed opponents in Republican Party contests.
Polls show Kemp far ahead of former Republican Senator David Perdue, whom Trump recruited to run for governor after Perdue lost his reelection bid to the Senate in early 2021. Polls alternately show Raffensperger ahead or trailing in his renomination bid against Representative Jody Hice, with large numbers of undecided voters.
Trump lost Georgia two years ago to Biden by 11,779 votes out of more than 5 million ballots, the first Republican to lose the state in a presidential election since 1992. The outcome was upheld in three separate vote counts.
But now Trump, nearly 19 months after the 2020 vote, is embroiled in the state’s political fortunes once more, and his personal fate is at stake, as well.
A grand jury in the state capital, Atlanta, has been empaneled to investigate the possible criminality of Trump’s request in early 2021 to Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes to defeat Biden in the state, one more than he lost by.
“Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,” Trump said in the taped call to Raffensperger. But the elections official rebuffed his request, and the former president is now trying to oust Raffensperger from office.
Similarly, Kemp, a staunch conservative, drew Trump’s ire by refusing to try to overturn the Biden victory in the state. While many rank-and-file Republican voters in the state support Trump’s fraud claims about the 2020 vote, polls have shown that Kemp remains a popular official in Georgia.
Trump and his former vice president, Mike Pence, have parted ways in the Georgia gubernatorial contest, with Pence to appear with Kemp in person at an election eve rally Monday night and Trump making a last-ditch appeal for Perdue via video.
Trump has endorsed numerous candidates in Republican primaries this month to pick nominees for the general elections in November against Democratic candidates.
While Trump-endorsed candidates have won dozens of contests for lesser offices, his record in key party primaries has been mixed.
Trump pushed author J.D. Vance over the finish line in the race for the Republican Senate nomination in the midwestern state of Ohio, but his choice for governor in Nebraska, Charles Herbster, lost.
Last week, Trump-endorsed Doug Mastriano, who supports Trump’s claims of election fraud, won the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination. But the former president’s Senate choice in the state, celebrity television doctor Mehmet Oz, remains locked with former hedge fund executive David McCormick in a too-close-to-call vote count.
In the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina, the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate, Representative Ted Budd, easily won the party nomination, but a controversial first-term lawmaker endorsed by Trump, Representative Madison Cawthorn, lost his renomination bid.