Is the Republican civil war in Georgia over?
July 15, 2022
Also inside today’s edition of Swing State Georgia:
Abrams swings back at Kemp.
Four Georgia Republicans vote against a major military bill.
Ethics watchdog raises red flags on Herschel Walker.
Not long ago, one of the state’s dominant political questions was whether Gov. Brian Kemp — or any Republican — could win over the ever-fractious GOP base ahead of a November race against Stacey Abrams.
With Donald Trump’s target on his back and a formidable threat from David Perdue, even Kemp’s most devoted loyalists were hunkering down for a drawn-out battle for GOP votes that would stretch long beyond the primary.
But after humiliating Perdue in May, the Trump-fueled rift in the party may be on the mend. The former President has eased off his attacks against Kemp, and the governor’s plea to circle the wagons appears to be working.
The Georgia AARP poll released this week is only the latest indicator. It found a whopping 95% of likely GOP voters are backing Kemp - slightly more than the proportion of Republicans supporting Senate hopeful Herschel Walker.
If the trend holds, it could vindicate the governor’s approach to a former President who once made defeating Kemp a top mission – and whose angry attacks once sparked activists to shower the governor with boos at party gatherings.
Careful not to alienate die-hard Trump supporters, Kemp avoided bashing the ex-president even as Trump dragged his name through the mud and blamed him for his 2020 defeat.
“Kemp slayed the giant by not fighting it,” said Dan McLagan, a Republican consultant. “He focused on doing the job rather than yelling on cable TV and Twitter. That’s what people want in a governor: results.”
Will it remain that way? Though a diminished force in Georgia, Trump could break the peace treaty at any moment and cause headaches for Kemp. His lies about election fraud could again dent GOP turnout.
Democrats expect the GOP infighting to ramp up. Jake Orvis, a Democratic strategist, predicted that the Trump-fueled fissures in Georgia Republican politics will only deepen.
“While candidates solidifying their base after a primary is normal,” he said, “the GOP civil war resulted in Perdue repeatedly insulting the governor and the nomination of a football player turned atmospheric scientist.”
As for Kemp, his campaign said Republicans are united behind his record of “fighting - and winning - for hardworking Georgians and are working hard to beat Stacey Abrams for the second time this November.”
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PUSHING BACK. Pummeled with attacks from Gov. Brian Kemp and his allies over her stance on public safety, Stacey Abrams has launched a new counteroffensive.
She filmed a direct-to-camera ad outlining her proposal to hike pay for certain law enforcement officers and her plan to reduce violent crime.
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