Kemp destroys Perdue, Raffensperger avoids a runoff, and other key takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries
Tuesday’s rebuke of Trump by Georgia voters, in a state that really was a national focal point of the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election had been stolen, is stunning. All four Republican incumbents Trump targeted in the state, the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and yes, the insurance commissioner, all won their elections.
Georgia Governor’s Race
In a stinging rebuke of Donald Trump’s meddling in Georgia, the state’s Republican voters on Tuesday elevated incumbent Governor Brian Kemp past Trump’s chosen candidate, former US Senator David Perdue, in landslide fashion.
Trump’s public feud with Kemp (as well as with GA Secretary of State Brad Raffesnperger) dates to December 2020, when the Georgia officials famously declined to back his blatant lies about election fraud. Discussed in this Washington Post piece at the time, “In phone calls and conversations with allies and advisers, Trump griped that Kemp was not pushing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to do more to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s victory; that Kemp was not defending the president on television; and, perhaps most indefensible in Trump’s mind, that Kemp moved forward with certifying the results of the election.”
As early as February 2021, Trump was actively courting a reluctant Perdue to challenge Kemp in the primary. Over several golf outings, then from the stage at a Perry, Ga rally, and finally behind the scenes in meetings with donors, Trump encouraged, pushed, and cajoled Perdue to run against Kemp–even commissioning a poll to show that Perdue could win.
Perdue could not
Perdue’s campaign failed to generate traction with Georgia voters, and he consistently trailed Kemp throughout the primary both in polling and fundraising. Ever more desperate, Perdue made Trump’s lies about election fraud the centerpiece of his campaign, and stooped to take racist swipes at Stacey Abrams, the unopposed Democratic nominee for Ga’s governor. He only fell farther and farther behind in polling though, while at the same time, Trump’s own VP openly campaigned for Kemp.
“Hell no, I’m not down 30 points,” insisted Mr. Perdue at a rally last Thursday, according to The New York Times, discussing the late polling margin in a Fox News poll. “We may not win Tuesday,” the former Senator added, “but I guaran-damn-tee you we are not down 30 points.”
Kemp was correct, the margin of his loss Tuesday indeed was not 30 points–it was 52.
Raffensperger Avoids Runoff
In the second of the two high profile failures of the night for Trump’s Revenge Tour, Georgia’s incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger easily held off Trump-endorsed challenger Jody Hice, winning by close to 17 points and gaining the 50 percent-of-the-vote threshold needed in Georgia to avoid a runoff.
Raffensperger became perhaps the most famous Secretary of State in the country when he was revealed to be on the receiving end of Trump’s infamous pressure campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Trump told Raffensperger during a recorded, hour long phone call that came to light in early January 2021, ahead of the Capitol insurrection.
In perhaps an even more resounding denunciation of Trump’s meddling than the much higher profile Governor’s race blowout, (if only because of the David v. Goliath nature of a former American President publicly feuding with a state election official), Raffensperger won’t need to look for 11,780 votes to help him to primary victory: he won his race by nearly 250,000 votes.
Other Races of Note
In a victory for QAnon espousing, State of the Union heckling, Jewish-Space-Lasers-are-starting-the-California-wildfires anti-semites the world over, Marjorie Taylor Greene handily won her primary against a moderate challenger in a safely Red seat, essentially ensuring at least 2 more years of Marge in the news. And in Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey won her primary, while Trump-endorsed then un-endorsed candidate for Senate, Mo Brooks, advanced to a runoff. Finally, in Arkansas, former Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders easily won the Republican primary for Governor.
Tuesday’s losses for Trump’s endorsed candidates add to losses for governor’s races in both Idaho and Nebraska. A week later, the Pennsylvania Senate primary is still too close and headed to a recount.
It reminds me of one of Trump’s more memorable bits of oratory: