Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Photo courtesy of Smug Mug
But Kemp appears poised to deal Trump his biggest rebuke of the midterm elections thus far in Tuesday’s Georgia primary to choose a Republican nominee for governor. The governor has built a massive lead in polling and fundraising over Trump’s hand-picked Republican challenger, former U.S. Senator David Perdue.
Opinion polls show Kemp well above the 50% threshold required to win the nomination outright, avoiding a June runoff, with Perdue trailing far behind.
Kemp’s success to date, despite a constant fusillade of insults from Trump, provides a potential roadmap for other Republicans eager to move past the former president’s divisive obsession with the outcome of the 2020 election without alienating his still-substantial base of voters.
“Established Republican politicians don’t necessarily need to listen to (Trump) all the time,” said Audra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “Donald Trump is not omniscient or omnipotent, even in a party where he holds a lot of sway.”
As he has surged toward the finish line, Kemp has picked up the support of other Republicans who have been the targets of Trump’s ire and, perhaps, see an opportunity for payback.