Nov 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Georgia Republicans avoid Trump mentions in midterm homestretch

Mike Pence stands behind Brian Kemp and they are both behind a podium that says KEMP Governor.

Brian Kemp and Mike Pence (right) in Cumming, Ga. on Nov. 1. Photo: John Bazemore/AP

In the final days before the midterms, the Georgia campaign trail has been marked by the absence of former President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump's candidacy and endorsements dominated Georgia politics over the last few cycles, but his name is now hardly mentioned by the top four candidates making their final pitches to voters.

  • He has not held an event in the state since March, though he reportedly considered it earlier this fall.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Gov. Brian Kemp again in Georgia on Tuesday, saying he was "with Brian Kemp before it was cool." The only time the word "Trump" came up was in the context of reference to the "Trump-Pence administration."

  • Pence praised Kemp's "commitment" and "backbone" while in office.

The big picture: Trump has remained a prominent part of Republicans' closing arguments across other states, including battlegrounds like Arizona where his endorsees remain on the ticket.

The intrigue: GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker, a longtime friend of Trump's who received his endorsement, hardly mentions him.

  • Walker has maintained he's running his own race and even said he's "mad" at Trump for taking credit for Walker's decision to run.

Between the lines: The absence of Trump on the Republican side has affected Democratic strategy, too. Neither Kemp nor his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams mentioned Trump in their Sunday debate.

Flashback: Former Sen. David Perdue, the Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate, lost the primary by a wide margin in May. His endorsees for secretary of state and attorney general also faltered.

  • Walker and lieutenant governor hopeful Burt Jones are the lone statewide Trump endorsees.

The bottom line: "If I were Donald Trump, would I go to a state where almost none of my primary candidates won? Or go to a swing state where most of my candidates ended up on the ballot?" said Jason Shepherd, a former Georgia GOP county chairman who lost the state party chairmanship to a Trump-backed incumbent last year.

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