May 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Mike Pence to campaign for Trump target Brian Kemp

Brian Kemp and Mike Pence
Gov. Brian Kemp and Vice President Mike Pence in May 2020 in Atlanta. Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP

Former Vice President Mike Pence will campaign for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on the eve of his May 24 primary against Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue.

Why it matters: Pence's decision to back one of former President Trump's most prominent GOP targets puts the fractures inside the Republican Party, and between Trump and his former vice president, on stark display.

  • The Georgia governor's race is one of the nation's most high-profile contested Republican primaries.

What he's saying: "Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America," Pence wrote in a statement, calling Kemp a friend. "I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”

Catch up quick: The news comes after Axios first reported that Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short had joined Kemp's campaign as a senior adviser.

The big picture: Kemp has also lined up campaign support from fellow Trump targets including Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, Gov. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

  • Former President George W. Bush is headlining a fundraiser for Kemp in Dallas on Monday.

Of note: The last time Pence campaigned in Georgia was to support Perdue and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia runoffs.

The other side: Trump has criticized Kemp consistently since the last election and thrown all his support behind Perdue. He held a March rally in Commerce, Georgia, a tele-rally after that and donated half a million dollars to Perdue's campaign.

  • But the former senator remains an average of 22 points behind Kemp in public polls, and Kemp has nearly 12 times more cash on hand than Perdue.
  • According to a source familiar with the situation, no plans for another in-person Trump event are in the works right now, but another tele-rally is likely.

What's next: A candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to avoid a June runoff.

Go deeper