In Georgia, a campaign fueled by Trump’s revenge spitting

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Mr. Trump will try to revive Mr. Perdue’s effort at a rally on Saturday in Commerce, a small town 70 miles northeast of Atlanta. They are expected to be joined by the six other Georgia candidates Mr Trump has endorsed in the state, as part of his campaign to play kingmaker role in this year’s election. The group includes Herschel Walker, a former Heisman Trophy winner Senate candidate; US Representative Jody Hice, candidate for Secretary of State; Vernon Jones, a former Democrat currently running for Congress; and John Gordon, a conservative lawyer who helped Mr. Trump defend his bogus election claims in court. Mr. Trump this week endorsed Mr. Gordon’s candidacy for state attorney general.

Mr Kemp has had years to hedge against a challenge from the Trump wing of the party. He was one of the first governors to roll back Covid-19 restrictions in early 2020, drawing support from many on the right who were angry at government-imposed lockdowns. Last year he enacted new voting restrictions that were popular with the Republican base. And in January, the governor backed a law allowing people to carry a gun without a license and another banning abortion pills in the mail.

That record, Kemp’s supporters say, has won over grassroots Republican voters, even those who agree with Mr. Trump that Mr. Kemp hasn’t done enough to fight Georgia’s election results. .

“I think they’ve moved on from the election,” said State Sen. Clint Dixon, a Republican representing suburban Atlanta. “And people who may have been upset by that, they still see that Governor Kemp is a proven conservative leader that we need.”

Of Mr Trump’s rally, he added: “I don’t think it does much. And the polls show it.

In early March, a Fox News poll of Republican primary voters in Georgia showed that Mr. Kemp was ahead of Mr. Perdue by 11 percentage points.

Mr. Kemp has amassed a war chest of more than $12.7 million, compared to the $1.1 million that Mr. Perdue has amassed since entering the race in December. The Republican Governors Association has also cut more than $1 million from ads supporting Mr. Kemp – the first time the organization has taken sides in a primary race. (Since December, Ms. Abrams has raised more than the two men, bringing in $9.3 million in January.)

Mr Kemp has worked to bring key Republican leaders into line – or keep them out. Earlier this month, he named Sonny Perdue chancellor of the state’s university system. The former governor intends to remain neutral in the primary, according to sources familiar with his plans.

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