Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is reportedly vulnerable as he approaches next year's gubernatorial election after getting on former President Donald Trump’s bad side for resisting attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, The Hill reports.
Although the governor recently signed a wide-ranging elections bill that has been fiercely criticized by Democrats, Trump has continued to criticize Kemp, saying he wasn’t going far enough to address his claims of voter fraud.
“Look, what happened is the governor and others were afraid to be called racists,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Monday. “So they gave a very weak bill, and they’re called racists anyway. They had a much stronger bill a few weeks before this one came out. The governor, what he did, is so sad.”
Earlier this month, Georgia Republican Party officials in two of the state’s most conservative counties voted either unanimously or nearly-unanimously to censure Kemp for not supporting Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss in the 2020 presidential election.
“Because of Kemp’s betrayal of President Trump and his high unpopularity with the Trump GOP base, Kemp could end up costing the GOP the governor’s mansion because many Trump supporters have pledged not to vote for Kemp under any circumstances,” reads the resolution from the Whitfield county GOP officials, according to The New York Times.
“The Republican grass roots are angry,” said conservative activist Debbie Dooley. “These resolutions will let Gov. Kemp, Lt. Gov. [Geoff] Duncan and Secretary of State [Brad] Raffensperger know we’re going to work against them in the Republican primary next year.”
Last Friday, pro-Trump Republican Vernon Jones announced his primary challenge to Kemp in next year’s gubernatorial election. Although Trump has not weighed in on Jones’ candidacy, despite previously promising to campaign against the governor in 2022, it could pose a threat to Kemp.
“It’s very dangerous for him,” Chuck Clay, the former chair of the Georgia GOP and an ally of Kemp’s, told the Hill. “There is no doubt that Trump and the popularity of Trump and the level of people firmly believing that this election was somehow stolen or fraudulent runs deep. And at the grassroots level, those people are the majority.”
He continued, “When you’re talking about the governorship in this state, you’ve got to figure any incumbent has an uphill climb. So you also just can’t drink the Kool Aid because you’re not going to bring over suburban voters or moderate voters that way.”
One longtime GOP strategist from Georgia, who was not identified, told the Hill “It’s pretty much going to be a proxy war. It’s Trump’s base versus Kemp’s folks. And in that scenario, I wouldn’t want to be Kemp.”