Pence fights for Brian Kemp as he faces a Trump-backed challenger in Georgia

Former Vice President Mike Pence is chairing a campaign rally next week for Gov. Brian Kemp, who faces a key Trump-backed challenger Senator David Perdue.

Pence will gather with Kemp on Monday, May 23, ahead of the May 24 GOP primary in Georgia. Former President Trump has rallied behind Purdue — the former president still holds a grudge at Kemp for refusing to overturn the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. The Atlanta Journal Constitution first reported that the former vice president would campaign for Kemp.

The former Vice President tweeted his support for Kemp on Friday, explaining, “@BrianKempGA is my friend, a man who is passionate about faith, family and the people of Georgia. I’m proud to offer Brian Kemp my full support for four more years as Governor of the great state of Georgia!”

.@BrianKempGA is my boyfriend, a man who is committed to faith, family and the people of Georgia. I’m proud to offer my full support to Brian Kemp as Governor of the great state of Georgia for another four years! https://t.co/NCUFJB81AZ

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) May 13, 2022

He called Kemp “one of the most successful conservative governors in America” ​​and praised his tax cuts and measures to fund law enforcement, parental empowerment and his strong pro-abortion stance.

The endorsement sparks a proxy war between Pence and Trump in a key battleground state. Trump has turned his anger on Kemp over the 2020 election for confirming his state’s election results. He encouraged Perdue to run a primary against him, and Perdue has repeated Trump’s false claims about the election. In a recent debate, Perdue even began his opening remarks by saying the election was stolen.

The Georgia gubernatorial primary will be another major test of Trump’s supportive power. Leading in polls, Kemp based his campaign on his record as incumbent and focused on jobs and the economy, contrasting likely Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams.

Pence’s support also shows how far he could build his political capital in this year’s midterm election and signals ambitions to run for the GOP nomination in 2024. While he was vice president, he put Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the state’s runoff race in January 2021, urging Republicans to stand out and vote for the two Republican incumbents as a last line of defense against a Democratic Senate. At the time, Trump was focused on a “rigged election” that Republican activists in the state believed was keeping their constituents from showing in the runoff. Ultimately, Perdue and Loefller lost their races, and Democrats took control of the Senate.

Pence has been at odds with Trump over the validity of the 2020 election and the former president’s suggestion that Pence could have somehow changed the outcome.

“There are those in our party who believe that as chairman of the joint session of Congress, I had the unilateral power to disapprove electoral college votes,” he said. Pence said in a speech to the Federalist Society in February. “And I heard this week President Trump say I have the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.”

Kemp has stood his ground in defending the way he and Georgia election officials handled the 2020 presidential campaign. Kemp was first elected governor in 2018, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams. If he prevails in the primary, he will again face Abrams, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.

Midterm elections 2022

More More Caitlin Huey-Burns

20190331-cru-ftn-7946-1.jpg