Donald Trump is headlining a Republican rally in Georgia this Saturday, but it's increasingly doubtful exactly how much influence he still has on Peach State voters.
The main reason for the former president's appearance is to buttress the gubernatorial campaign of former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. The former senator is running in the GOP primary against current Gov. Brian Kemp, who elicited Trump's ever-lasting anger when he refused to "find" the votes needed to overturn Georgia's vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
While Trump continues to project himself as a GOP kingmaker whose "total and complete endorsement" guarantees a candidate's victory, an NBC News poll seems to show otherwise as Republicans more and more are describing themselves as supporters of their party, as opposed to Trump himself.
Perdue is trailing incumbent Governor Kemp in statewide polling, despite the fact that he's running multiple TV ads featuring the former president endorsing his candidacy.
Trump also is backing his former football team employee, Herschel Walker, who’s running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Raphael Warnock; state Sen. Burt Jones, a candidate for lieutenant governor; U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who is campaigning to oust Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; and Vernon Jones, who is competing for an open U.S. House race.
“Trump’s increasing involvement in this primary is fueled more by his hatred of Kemp than support for Perdue — now, he’s coming to Kemp’s own backyard to taunt the governor as he continues trying to oust him,” said Max Flugrath, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia.
“Georgia will play a major role in determining Trump’s future,” said Brian Robinson, a GOP consultant and top aide to former Governor Nathan Deal. “If his slate were to win, there is no one who would doubt that his word is practically messianic. But he’s put a lot of chips on the table here, and it’s possible that there could be some high stakes losses -- in which case it sends the signal that his grip has loosened.”