May 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump endorsements collapse in Georgia

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Drew Angerer and Bill Clark/Getty Images

The power of Donald Trump’s endorsement took a beating in Georgia's primaries as he failed to dislodge all of the Republican elected officials he targeted, including some he's publicly treated as sworn enemies.

Why it matters: Georgia was Ground Zero for Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. His struggle to elevate candidates in the state who loudly echo his lies about stolen elections cast doubt on the 2020 election's continued salience for GOP voters — and may presage his weakened lock on the party.

  • Top target Gov. Brian Kemp handily blocked a challenge from Trump-backed David Perdue by more than 50 points. Another, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, defeated his Trump-backed opponent Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) too.

But, but, but: Some Republicans say it's a mistake to write off Trump's kingmaker power — especially in primaries without an incumbent.

Driving the news: Trump's most high-profile failure of the night was his effort to take out Kemp for refusing to join efforts to overturn President Biden's win in Georgia.

  • Trump's invested much of his post-presidency in undermining Kemp, assailing Kemp in statements and privately lobbying Perdue, a former U.S. senator from Georgia, to run against him.
  • Kemp easily dispatched Perdue, who made questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election a key issue of his campaign, beating him by more than 50 points.

By the numbers: Trump endorsed 13 GOP primary candidates in Georgia, including five safe House incumbents and Herschel Walker, who was the heavy favorite in the GOP primary for Senate.

  • Of Trump’s five endorsees for state office, just one, lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones, remained narrowly ahead with the race too close to call this morning.
  • In addition to the governor and secretary of state races, Trump-backed challengers to Attorney General Chris Carr and Insurance Commissioner John King fell short.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and the other safe incumbents won their nominations, but Trump’s two chosen candidates in the open 6th and 10th District GOP primaries, Jake Evans and Vernon Jones, are headed to runoffs after finishing second.

What they're saying: "I think the reality is, an overwhelming majority of Georgians are going to vote against the Trump-endorsed candidate," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, tells Axios.

  • "And it shouldn't be surprising, right? I mean, we've got hundreds of years' worth of history that shows us the former president loses their influence every day they're out of office. And Donald Trump — although he wishes it wasn't the case — is no different."

But, but, but: Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) tells Axios the state's open primaries without incumbents could be a purer test of the power of Trump's endorsement among Republicans.

The big picture: Trump's underwhelming record in Georgia tracks with a broader hit-or-miss streak for his endorsements this year.

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