In his biggest test yet during this midterm primary season, former President Donald Trump suffered a major loss in his endorsement record with his hopes of avenging himself against the Georgia Republicans who refused to help him overturn the results of the 2020 election.
On Tuesday, Governor Brian Kemp won a Republican nomination for reelection despite Trump’s attacks against him and the former president’s endorsement of his primary opponent, former Senator David Perdue.
Trump had been ramping up one of his toughest 2022 battles in Georgia ever since Kemp repeatedly rejected his claims about the presidential election being stolen. Trump lost the state to Biden by a little more than 12,000 votes.
The loss suffered by Perdue in the governor’s race on Tuesday not only crushed Trump’s dreams of getting back at his GOP rival but also further damaged his track record of endorsing winning candidates—a reputation Trump has prided himself on and attempted to flex as evidence of his influence over Republican voters.
After sweeping the earlier primary races this season, Trump touted his 55 successful picks, telling CNB News: “My record is unparalleled, my endorsements, it’s totally unparalleled. Nobody’s ever had a record like this. I’m almost unblemished.”
However, the former president then saw notable losses in North Carolina with Representative Madison Cawthorn, in Nebraska with Charles Herbster and in Idaho with Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin.
Tuesday’s results in Georgia only further blemished Trump’s previously strong record.
Because the ongoing feud between Trump and Kemp is rooted in the 2020 election, Kemp’s victory also provides some insight into the minds of Georgia’s Republican voters, who may no longer be on Trump’s side.
“If Kemp receives more than 50 percent [of votes],” as the governor did on Tuesday, Republican strategist Jay Townsend told Newsweek“it will mean that a majority of Republican primary voters want to put 2020 in the rearview mirror.”
Kemp had 72 percent of the GOP vote at the time the race was called by the Associated Press.
“Perdue had no rationale for running against Kemp other than his assertion that Kemp allowed Biden to steal an election,” Townsend said. “The votes Perdue receives will reflect the percentage of Georgia Republican primary voters who still believe that.”
With only 22 percent of the vote at the time the race was called, Perdue’s stunning loss suggests that Georgia Republicans are prepared to reject Trump’s claims.
Townsend added that Kemp’s victory is “very good news” for other Republicans mounting a 2024 presidential campaign, especially Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, because it suggests that Trump’s power over the GOP is beginning to wane and that a new White House path is being opened for MAGA hopefuls who aren’t Trump.