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ATLANTA – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Tuesday beat former Sen. David Perdue in a GOP gubernatorial primary, striking the most significant blow yet to a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Kemp’s victory over Perdue, projected by the Associated Press, breaks a trend of significant success for Trump with his primary endorsements. As of May 18, 96% of Trump-supported candidates won their primaries. Trump’s endorsement powered Ohio GOP Senate nominee JD Vance to a major comeback victory last month and set Pennsylvania senate candidate Mehmet Oz up as a frontrunner in his race, which isn’t yet called a week after the primary.
But now Kemp, one of the Republicans Trump has attacked the most since 2020, is headed to a general election matchup against Democrat Stacey Abrams and Perdue is out of public office for now.
“I just called the governor and I congratulated him,” Perdue said Tuesday night, conceding the race. “I am fully supporting Brian Kemp…tomorrow morning you are going to hear me going to work…to make damn sure Stacey Abrams is not the next governor of Georgia.”
Four years ago, with the support of the then-president, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire after certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia following two recounts of the vote. Last year, Trump repeatedly urged Perdue to primary challenge the governor and endorsed him the day after the former senator announced his bid in December.
Perdue jumped into the race days after Abrams, a rising star in the Democratic Party and a nationally known champion of voter rights, launched her second straight gubernatorial bid. Abrams is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Trump traveled to Georgia in late March to headline a rally for Perdue, starred in his campaign commercials, and called into two tele-rallies this month. But even though Trump retains immense sway over the GOP, his full court press didn;t boost Perdue in his uphill challenge of Kemp.
On the eve of the primary, Kemp told Fox News that he’s “the candidate that can beat Stacey Abrams,” refuting repeated arguments from the former president and Perdue that Trump voters won’t back the governor in November’s general election against Abrams.
But Perdue argued in a Fox News interview on Monday that the incumbent governor is “definitely vulnerable.”
Perdue is far from the only candidate Trump is backing in Georgia.
The most high-profile candidate Trump endorsed is former college and pro-football legend Herschel Walker, who easily captured the GOP nomination on his way to battling Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a blockbuster general election showdown that could decide whether Republicans win back the Senate majority.
And the former president endorsed GOP Rep. Jody Hice, one of three candidates primary challenging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who along with Kemp resisted Trump’s calls to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Trump also endorsed candidates in the state lieutenant governor and attorney general races, as well as a handful of congressional primaries. The former president is backing right-wing GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has courted plenty of controversy since her election to the House in 2020. She faces multiple primary challengers as she runs for reelection in the 14th Congressional District in northwest Georgia.