AMELIA ISLAND, FLA. – Following his loss in last year’s presidential election, Donald Trump publicly berated Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

After Joe Biden won Peach State by 0.23 percent – a lead of just 11,779 votes – Trump urged Republican Kemp to reverse the results and claim electoral fraud.

Kemp’s refusal to do so enraged the former president and led to months of attacks from members of his own party. The governor quickly fell into the polls as a growing number of potential major opponents lined up to defeat him in the next election.

It seemed like all media representatives wrote Kemp’s political obituary. But all that changed in just a few days that spring when he signed a vote he deemed necessary to restore confidence in the state’s elections. Critics criticized the move as restrictive.

President Biden condemned the law as “Jim Crow for the 21st Century” – an irresponsible reference to a morally bankrupt period in US history that restricted many basic rights for people of color, including the ability to vote.

Georgia’s largest corporations, including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, harshly criticized the law, but Kemp not only remained untouched by the attacks, he took them directly.

Even when Major League Baseball dealt the toughest blow by taking the coveted all-star game from the Atlanta Braves’ stadium – an economic engine for any host city – Kemp held its own.

Kemp told The Post that he had previously seen similar criticisms, including from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams.Kemp told The Post that he was used to countering criticism from the left, including from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams.AFP via Getty Images

And now the first term governor is on the rise. The latest Morning Consult poll shows he’s recovered, with 74 percent of Republican voters approving of his job performance – a whopping 15 percentage points from a low 10 days before the March election law was signed. He plans to run for governor again in 2022 and hold his seat.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened,” Kemp said in an interview with The Post. “You have to learn when to choose your fights in politics, and this is a fight worth fighting.”

Kemp’s reversal of happiness began when he stood like a wall of fire between his constituents and the cultural elites who were harassing his state. He had the strength to sign a bill that was defamed by the mass media when he felt it only made sense, and he refused to come under pressure when the American corporation punished his state.

A former Senator and Secretary of State, Kemp, 57, said he had consistently opposed elites who were demanding that its conservative policies be changed to match their liberal worldview.

“It’s bigger for me to oppose this than any political party or person, including myself, and that’s what I’ve fought for,” said Kemp, who is also a small business owner with interests in real estate, construction and agriculture.

In 2019, several production companies in Hollywood, an industry that helped over 92,000 jobs in Georgia, announced that they would no longer film in the state while the “fetal heartbeat” abortion law applies. A federal judge finally blocked the law months after it was signed by Kemp, and since the measure never saw the light of day, the boycott disappeared.

In happier times: Brian Kemp greets President Trump when he arrives at Dobbins AFB on November 8, 2019.In happier times: Brian Kemp greets President Trump when he arrives at Dobbins AFB on November 8, 2019.AP

When he was Secretary of State, activists slammed Kemp for maintaining the electoral roll they called “purges”. His opponent for the governor, Democrat Stacey Abrams, called him in 2018 “a remarkable architect of voter suppression”.

In the latest electoral law, Kemp said every single Republican in the Georgian General Assembly voted in favor, no matter what area they represented. “We had people in districts that Trump lost, and we had people in districts that Trump won 90 percent of the vote with, and everyone supported that because it was a good bill.”

After the vote, it was up to him to defend them, he said.

“I knew how they would act,” Kemp said of the backlash from progressive media and companies. “I fought it just like I always did.”

Now Kemp has regained his national standing – not by defending Trump, but by battling Major League Baseball, Coke and Delta. His approach is key to how GOP politicians can win over voters in a post-Trump era, said Jeff Brauer, professor of political science at Keystone College.

“For most of US history, and definitely for the past two decades, American politics has been heavily divided between economic / cultural elites and everyday workers,” said Brauer.

“You have to learn when to choose your fights in politics, and this is a fight worth fighting.”

Kemp defending his state’s new electoral law amid growing backlash

Brauer said this was the case before Trump’s presidency and it continues to do so today. “Yes, Trump successfully embraced this populism, but other politicians like Kemp have and will continue to do so, even without Trump’s brand.”

Meanwhile, the vast anti-Trump elite network still believes that right-wing politics is all about the brazen billionaire from Queens. They never understood that his 2016 victory was due more to America’s new conservative populist coalition than to its cause.

What the media doesn’t understand is that voters didn’t like Trump because of him, but because of his willingness to fight for them. Anyone who opposes the forces that disapprove of these voters and their values ​​of family, faith, capitalism and patriotism will be 100 percent committed.

This will be the X-factor for GOP candidates in 2022 and 2024, especially among suburban voters who turned to Democrats in 2018 and 2020 for being turned off by Trump’s harsh rhetoric, Brauer said.

“The politicians [who] Accepting the anti-elitism message will be successful with the electorate, ”he concludes.

In short, what this populist coalition really wants is a candidate to stand up against powerful cultural institutions and defend their communities. It’s not just about Trump – and it never was.

Salena Zito is co-author of The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.