In a column for the New York Times, editorial board member Michelle Cottle suggested that political analysts who are neck-deep in covering the battle for Republican supremacy between Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are missing an even bigger threat to the former president's quest to be the 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
According to Cottle, the Republican rival for the nomination Trump should really be worried about is the one who has stood up to him and not only was re-elected -- but has thrived and is building up a war chest while no one is looking.
Calling him the man who "neutered" Trump, Cottle suggested Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp could be the lawmaker who unseats the former president as the face of the Republican Party since he has already endured a full-on assault from Trump that failed to make a dent in his popularity.
As evidence of his growing stature, as opposed to the twice-impeached president, Cottle noted that Kemp has become the top advocate for Herschel Walker's struggling U.S. Senate campaign while Trump has been sidelined by Republican fears he's a detriment.
"Mr. Kemp is having a moment. Having secured another four years in office — despite being targeted for removal in the primaries by a certain bitter ex-president — he is feeling looser, freer, more inclined to lend a hand to his good buddy Herschel," she wrote before adding, "Whatever happens with Mr. Walker, keep an eye on Mr. Kemp. The 59-year-old Georgia governor is positioning himself to be a major Republican player — one that, unlike so many in his party, is not a complete Trump chump."
Noting Kemp's "decisive" win over Stacey Abrams. Cottle wrote that Kemp seems impervious to Trump's slings and arrows.
"The former president put a lot of political capital on the line in his crusade against Mr. Kemp, only to get spanked once again in Georgia. The governor’s refusal to bow to Mr. Trump wound up burnishing his reputation across party lines, which served him well in the purplish state. In the general election last month, Mr. Kemp won 200,000 more votes than Mr. Walker did in his race," she wrote.
"It’s all upside for Mr. Kemp. No one will seriously blame him if he can’t rescue a candidate as lousy as Mr. Walker, and he wins friends and influence within the party simply by trying. He also gets to wallow in his status as a separate, non-Trumpian power center," she suggested before pointing out, "Mr. Kemp clearly has his sights set on the political road ahead."
"Mr. Kemp’s work on behalf of Mr. Walker is opening even more doors, helping him forge connections with officials, operatives and donors well beyond Georgia. All of which will come in handy if, say, Mr. Kemp decides he wants to run for federal office one day," she suggested. "And it sure looks as though he might. Not long before Thanksgiving, he filed the paperwork to form a federal super PAC. Named Hardworking Americans Inc., the organization will help him gain influence — having a pool of political cash tends to raise one’s popularity — and possibly pave his way for a federal campaign."
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