Trump’s power over GOP tested as foe Brian Kemp seeks re-nomination in Georgia
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Voting rights leader Stacey Abrams announced a 2022 rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp, who drew the ire of Donald Trump for refusing to overturn the 2020 election in the state. The decision will set up a major test of Trump's power.

In September, Trump outraged establishment Republicans when he trashed Kemp at a political rally in Georgia. Trump's lies about voter fraud have been blamed for depressing GOP turnout in Georgia's runoff elections. Democrats won both, giving them control of the U.S. Senate.

After Abrams announcement, Trump released a statement saying, "the MAGA base will just not vote for [Kemp] after what he did with respect to Election Integrity and two horribly run elections, for President and then two Senate seats."

So far, Trump supporters have failed to convince Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) to challenge Kemp.

"The former U.S. senator has told activists and allies that there’s one reason he’d divide the party by challenging Kemp next year: A fear that the governor would get walloped by Abrams in November and that only Perdue could save the Georgia GOP from a devastating defeat," Greg Bluestein wrote in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Now that an Abrams candidacy is no longer a hypothetical, the pressure will only intensify on Perdue to make up his mind. We’re told he’s still conflicted about whether to run, though some of his friends say he’s leaning toward pulling the trigger."

Trump predicted that Kemp would be challenged.

"But some good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and some good Republican will WIN!” Trump said in his Wednesday statement.

A recruitment failure by Trump could be a major blow to his perceived power.

"He’s actively tried to recruit Perdue to join his pro-Trump slate that already includes Senate candidate Herschel Walker; Burt Jones, a contender for lieutenant governor; and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is running for secretary of state. If Perdue declines a bid, it’s not clear who else Trump would seek to run. Some state Republicans predict that Trump’s influence is starting to wane. There may be no better test of how strong his grip on the GOP is in 2022 than Kemp’s reelection bid," Bluestein explained.

On Wednesday, Fox News personality Sean Hannity urged Kemp to "bow out of the race."



Read the full analysis.