Trump supported candidate easily wins GOP nomination for Governor in Georgia
President Trump’s endorsement helped boost Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to a commanding victory in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, while Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was undone by his own words.Democrat attacks appear to have the opposite effect of their intentions, as candidates supported by the President have done better than expected. It is also a warning to the Never-Trumpers in the party that they are vulnerable.
Kemp was winning 69 percent of the vote while Cagle remained stuck in the low 30s.
Cagle wound up on top of a crowded field of Republican contenders during the first round of voting in May, but his 38.9 percent of the vote was well below the 50 percent threshold for avoiding a runoff. Kemp received 25.6 percent, but the polls soon showed a one-on-one race would be tight, as he and Cagle battled over their conservative credentials and support for Trump.
To that end, Cagle said he would block a tax measure that would benefit Delta after the airline ended a National Rifle Association member benefit. (The NRA endorsed Cagle for governor.) He also pledged to crack down on sanctuary cities.
Kemp ran ads saying he would round up and help deport “criminal illegals” in his own truck. He had another spot in which he is portrayed wielding a shotgun against a man who wanted to date his daughter. The 55-year-old billed himself as “politically incorrect.”
These moves appeared to attract Trump’s attention and won Kemp a coveted Twitter endorsement. “Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration,” the president tweeted. “He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement.”
Trump’s favor has been important in recent Republican primaries. A perceived lack of enthusiasm for the president pushed Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., into a runoff. Trump then backed her, helping her to win that second race.
Trump endorsed against Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., partially causing Sanford to lose renomination. Trump also urged West Virginia Republicans to vote against Don Blankenship in the state's senatorial primary, potentially stalling any momentum the controversial former coal executive generated from a quirky debate performance in which he lashed out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The president delivered again for his chosen candidate Tuesday night. According to one poll, more than one-fifth of Georgia GOP primary voters preferred a candidate who would be a more loyal Trump ally.