May 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Top Pence aide joins staff of Trump enemy Brian Kemp

Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen with Chief of Staff Marc Short in 2017.
Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Marc Short in 2017. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, has joined Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's campaign team as a senior adviser, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: Former President Trump has endorsed Kemp's re-election challenger, former Sen. David Perdue. Kemp is leading the polls in their May 24 primary, though, and Short has been brought in to turbocharge the governor's national fundraising ahead of a potential general election re-match with Stacey Abrams.

  • Short has also been advising Kemp's team on broader political strategy, according to a source familiar with the arrangement.
  • The Kemp campaign confirmed Short's involvement to Axios.

Why it matters: Short's move to join one of Trump’s most prominent GOP targets illuminates the deepening fault lines inside the party — and between Trump and his former vice president.

  • The campaign is one of the nation’s most high-profile contested Republican primaries.
  • Short is closely aligned with Pence — and now working for a candidate who refused Trump's demands to overturn the state's 2020 election results.
  • Georgia not only went for Joe Biden in 2020 but sent two Democrats to the Senate in January 2021. That resulted in their party gaining control not just of the White House but the Senate as well as the House.

The intrigue: A source close to Trump told Axios the former president is watching the Georgia governor's race intently and with some anxiety.

In a tele-rally Monday, Trump predicted a Kemp primary victory could hurt other Republicans in November, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • Trump has consistently trashed Kemp since the last election and gone all-in for Perdue — including holding a March rally in Commerce, Georgia.
  • Nonetheless, the former senator remains an average of more than 15 points behind Kemp in public polls. (A candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.)
  • A Kemp victory would be a blow to Trump’s ego and undermine the perceived power of his endorsements.

What they're saying: Kemp campaign adviser and communications director Cody Hall said in a statement to Axios that the governor is uniting Republicans.

  • "We’re proud to have Marc’s support and look forward to working together to make sure Stacey Abrams is never our governor."

The big picture: Abrams, who faces no opposition in the Democratic primary, has proved herself to be a national fundraising powerhouse since losing the 2018 race to Kemp.

  • She brought in more than $9 million in two months after announcing her bid.

Of note: Kemp reported Monday that he has nearly $11 million cash on hand.

Perdue hasn't released his numbers but reported bringing in little more than $1 million during the last reporting period.

  • Abrams also hasn't publicized her latest totals.
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