Longtime Democratic strategist and New York magazine analyst Ed Kilgore on Saturday explained why he thought Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was outmaneuvering Donald Trump in Georgia, but that it might not be enough to save Kemp's political future.
"There are two very evident dimensions of the 45th president's 2020 vengeance crusade. First, he has been impressively successful in getting a solid majority of Republican elected officials and rank-and-file activists alike to buy into, or at least refuse to contradict, his big-ass lie about having actually won — nay swept — the 2020 presidential election. Second, he and his bravos really want to draw blood from the Republican elected officials he blames for undermining his efforts to reverse the results before they were confirmed by Congress on January 6," Kilgore wrote. "Chief among them were Georgia secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who certified Biden's victory in the Peach State, and Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who ratified this certification."
Kilgore explained that Raffensperger appears to be toast in his GOP primary, saying "odds now are that Raffensperger won't even make the runoff if there is one."
While Trump helped convince Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) to run against Raffensperger, his candidate recruitment has so far largely failed in the governor's race.
"Yes, the suddenly Trump-y former Democrat Vernon Jones is in the race, with the former president's blessing (if not his endorsement, so far)," he noted. "But putting aside the issues with Trump, Kemp is a whole lot closer to the Georgia GOP's idea of a governor than a Black ex-Democrat who was pro-choice not long ago and has quite a bit of baggage (including a rape allegation he refuted by claiming a consensus three-way sexual encounter)."
Kilgore noted Trump had reportedly failed to get former Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones to challenge Kemp.
"Nor are Trump's 2022 stumbles in Georgia limited to the governorship. He very publicly encouraged University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker (a friend of Trump's dating back to Walker's days playing for a pro football franchise owned by the mogul) to run against Raphael Warnock when the Democrat pursues a full Senate term next year. Trump's move all but froze the field as other Republicans waited to see what 'Herschel,' as he is universally known in Georgia, would do. But Walker, who currently lives in Texas, is taking his time as Warnock happily raises money, and Republicans could have to scramble for a candidate if the former Heisman Trophy winner ultimately gives the race a pass," Kilgore explained.
However, even if Kemp prevails in the GOP primary, he's still at risk of having his political career ended in the 2022 general election.
"As for Kemp, even if he outfoxes Trump and avoids a serious primary challenge, he will still have a tough general election ahead of him, probably against the woman he barely defeated (after purging quite a few of her voters from the rolls), Stacey Abrams. All the steps he takes, moreover, to convince MAGA voters that he is as savagely reactionary as ever will probably eliminate any credit swing voters might otherwise give him for independence from Trump. But I'm sure Kemp is living one day at a time politically, and so far he's surviving," Kilgore noted.
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