First, Trump became the first Republican to lose Georgia in a presidential election in 28 years, in 2020.
Then, Georgia emerged as the focal point of Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud, as he pushed state officials to overturn the election results — actions that are now under investigation by an Atlanta-area district attorney.
And to cap it off, despite (or perhaps because of) Trump’s best efforts, Republicans lost two Senate seats in Georgia in January 2021, handing Democrats control of the chamber.
Now, one of the former President’s top targets for defeat in 2022 — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, one of the officials who refused to go along with Trump’s election schemes — has a commanding lead in the polls heading into the May 24 primary. And a growing list of high-profile Republicans, including onetime Trump allies, are jumping in to help Kemp across the finish line — and deliver a blow to the former President.
Former Vice President Mike Pence announced Friday that he would rally with Kemp as the governor seeks to fend off a primary challenge from the Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue. It marks one of the most significant splits yet for Pence from his former boss, who he also called out by name earlier this year for claiming Pence had had the ability to overturn the 2020 election as vice president.
Pence is far from alone. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who helped defeat a Trump-endorsed candidate in the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary this week, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has drawn Trump’s ire for certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 win in the state, are also scheduled to campaign for Kemp. Ricketts and Ducey co-chair the Republican Governors Association, which has made the unusual move of intervening in the primary to run ads on Kemp’s behalf.
Joining Ricketts and Ducey on the trail will be former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former Trump adviser who has become an outspoken critic of the former President. Like Pence, Christie may be eyeing a White House run of his own in 2024.
And former President George W. Bush is set to headline a fundraiser for Kemp next week.
Add it all up, and it amounts to the most concerted GOP effort to hand Trump a defeat in the midterm elections to date.
It’s worth noting that if Kemp weren’t in such a strong position — he could even eclipse the 50% mark in the primary necessary to avoid a runoff — these Republicans might not have felt as comfortable sticking their necks out against Trump, who remains the party’s most dominant figure.
Even if they represent only a minority, there is clearly still a slice of the Republican Party that doesn’t want to simply go down every road Trump takes them on. And symbolically, there are few better places for those Republicans to make a stand than Georgia.
The Point: A loss in Georgia wouldn’t do much to threaten Trump’s status as the leader of the GOP. But given his history there and the Republicans who have lined up against him, it would be an especially stinging one.