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Former Vice President Mike Pence will appear at a get-out-the-vote rally on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 primary with incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, marking another step away from former President Donald Trump for Pence, who has indicated he wants to run for the top spot in 2024.
Kemp was already running away with the primary, besting Trump’s handpicked candidate for governor, former Senator David Perdue. Kemp has charged into a 16-point lead over Perdue, putting his support well over the 50 percent mark needed for the governor to avoid a runoff.
Pence’s endorsement is not likely to make much of a difference. Kemp already has far more cash on hand than Perdue and does not lack endorsements from establishment Republicans. But Kemp is out to humiliate Perdue and all the MAGA candidates who are running to take over the Georgia Republican Party.
It’s also a fresh example of Pence’s attempt to distance himself from Trump after four years as his political sidekick. Pence called his former boss “wrong” for falsely claiming he could overturn the 2020 results and urged Republicans to focus on 2022 rather than fixate on the past.
On Friday, Pence described Kemp as a friend who is “dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia.”
“He built a safer and stronger Georgia by cutting taxes, empowering parents and investing in teachers, funding law enforcement, and standing strong for the right to life,” said Pence.
Donald Trump is extremely popular in Georgia, but it’s an open question how far his coattails extend. Perdue is likely to lose badly, but Trump’s man running for Georgia secretary of state is holding his own.
The incumbent secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger is in a tight race with Rep. Jody Hice. Trump was extremely unhappy that Raffensperger refused to bend the rules and give him Georgia’s electoral votes in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The former president vowed to defeat him in 2022 and urged Rep. Hice to enter the race and help him exact his revenge.
Hice parrots all of Trump’s talking points on the election and so far, it hasn’t proved to be decisive.
If you were filling out your Republican primary ballot for Secretary of State today, who would you vote for?
David Belle Isle – 4%
Jody Hice – 20%
T.J. Hudson – 5%
Brad Raffensperger – 31%
Undecided – 40%
There is a clear ideological split in this race – among those self-identifying as “very conservative,” Raffensperger maintains a narrow 29-26% lead over Hice, while among those who self-identify as just “conservative,” the incumbent secretary of state leads 33-21%.
Those who self-classify as “moderate” voters also favor Raffensperger substantially, 32-13%.
For voters who identify “election integrity” as their top issue – 5% of respondents to the poll – Hice leads 26-23%. And for those who list immigration as their main priority – 15% of respondents – Hice leads 36-17%.
With 40 percent undecided and three weeks to go before the primary, it’s unlikely that either candidate will receive 50 percent of the vote. If that’s the case, a runoff election will be held four weeks after the primary on June 21.
This civil war is not doing the Republican Party any good. Both Raffensperger and Hice are plenty conservative enough for Georgia, so it comes down to a question of loyalty to one man — Donald Trump. Wars have been started for less, but given the probable max effort by Democrats to win the state in 2024, a united Republican Party would help immensely.