Trump reprimanded with stinging losses in Georgia GOP contests

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia easily dispatched Donald Trump’s hand-picked challenger on Tuesday in a Republican primary that demonstrated the former president’s limitations and his conspiracy-fueled politics in a swing state. critical.

Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams this fall in what will be one of the most important gubernatorial races in the country.

The GOP results, combined with the loss of the Trump-backed nominee for secretary of state, served as a scathing rebuke to the former president in a state he prioritized above nearly all others. Angered by Kemp’s refusal to follow his extraordinary efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, Trump personally recruited former Sen. David Perdue to challenge the incumbent governor. He also helped clean up the main field and spent over $3 million on that failed effort.

Kemp eventually became a powerful candidate capable of attracting prolific fundraising totals that helped him flood Georgia with television and other commercials. He tapped into the power of his office to show voters what he could do for them, unveiling a $5.5 billion, 8,100-job Hyundai Motor plant near Savannah in the final days of the campaign.

“Even in the midst of a tough primary, our state’s conservatives haven’t listened to the noise. They weren’t distracted,” Kemp told his cheering supporters, before calling on his party to rally behind his campaign.

In the defeat, Perdue struck a unifying tone that has become increasingly rare in a Republican Party dominated by Trump’s tough tactics.

“I want you to know tonight that I fully support Brian Kemp in his race to beat Stacey Abrams,” Perdue said. “It’s emotional for all of us, we’re disappointed, I get it. Let’s take a few hours, lick our wounds, and tomorrow morning you’re going to hear me go to work for Brian Kemp to make sure Stacey Abrams is never governor of Georgia.

A total of five states voted on Tuesday, including Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Minnesota. But none had been more consumed than Georgia by Trump and his lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

In all, Trump failed to replace the four Republican incumbents he was targeting in the state, including the governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who declined to back the former president’s direct calls to void the 2020 election, beat Trump’s pick, Rep. Jody Hice.

The losses in Georgia become the latest examples of a primary setback for Trump’s favored candidates, who lost gubernatorial races in Idaho and Nebraska. A Pennsylvania Senate primary is too close to be called a week after the election.

Still, Tuesday’s entire contest underscored Trumpism’s continued power in Republican politics 18 months after he was removed from office. His favorite Georgia Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, easily won the GOP nomination despite warnings from Walker’s Republican competitors about his history of domestic violence and mental health issues. He will face Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock in the fall in a race that could determine control of the chamber.

Regardless of Trump’s involvement in their races, virtually every Republican candidate — even Kemp — ran on “election integrity.” That phrase that emerged as code for the former president’s baseless grievances over the 2020 election, which were flatly dismissed by the courts Conservative candidates from Georgia to Arkansas to Texas also stood up. pored over Trump’s favorite culture wars by highlighting concerns about transgender athletes, “critical race theory” and illegal immigration.

Sensing Kemp’s strength in Georgia, however, other prominent Republicans were increasingly willing to challenge the former president.

Trump’s own vice president, Mike Pence, rallied to Kemp in suburban Atlanta on Monday night. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also campaigned for Kemp and criticized Trump, described his victory as “huge”.

“So proud and happy for my friend – and equally important to the Georgia GOP and the people of Georgia,” Christie tweeted. “They weren’t going to kick out a top governor or voluntarily go on the DJT Vendetta Tour.”

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats elsewhere were navigating tough primaries.

Democrats were particularly focused on a South Texas election runoff, where longtime incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar faced a fierce challenge from progressive Jessica Cisneros in a race where abortion was a major issue. Cuellar is the latest anti-abortion Democrat to sit in the House.

In Alabama, conservative Firebrand Rep. Mo Brooks and Katie Britt qualified for a runoff in June to represent the GOP in the race to replace incumbent Senator Richard Shelby. Britt served as Shelby’s former chief of staff, while Brooks, a figurehead of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol attack, initially won Trump’s endorsement. Trump rescinded his support after seeing Brooks struggle in the polls.

And Trump’s former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who was the face of an administration that contributed to the country’s deep division, won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Arkansas.

Back in Georgia, Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath defeated Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in suburban Atlanta after being forced into a rare incumbent primary after Republicans redrew the map of Congress. McBath, whose son was murdered, became a strong advocate for gun control.

Not far away, in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, Trump’s top ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, won her primary election, despite a first term notable for conspiracy theories and controversy.

Tuesday marked the first election in Georgia under a new election law passed by the Republican-backed state legislature in response to Trump’s grievances. The changes made it harder to vote by mail, which was popular among Democrats in 2020 amid the pandemic; introduces new voter ID requirements that critics say could disenfranchise black voters; and expanded early voting in rural areas that typically vote Republican.

The new law also prohibits distributing food or water within 150 feet of a polling place, a common practice in urban areas where there are usually long lines.

Despite concerns about the impact of the law, there have been no major or system-wide issues reported in Georgia. There were sporadic reports of polling stations opening late, minor equipment problems and some voters ending up in the wrong place.

In the Atlanta suburb of Woodstock, Republican primary voter David Butler said he liked Trump but chose to support Kemp instead of the Trump-backed Perdue.

He said Trump’s endorsement had “no impact, none” on his decision.

“I really like Trump, but Trump is in the past,” Butler said.


People reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Georgia, contributed to this report.

Steve Peoples and Jeff Amy, Associated Press