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Three weeks after crushing his main challenger, who was heavily backed by former President Donald Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is backing the opponent of a Trump-backed candidate in the week’s Republican primary runoff. next in the state’s 10th congressional district.
“I’m proud to support Mike Collins,” Kemp said in a statement Thursday as he backed trucking company owner Collins as he takes on Vernon Jones next Tuesday. The former state legislator and Democrat-turned-Republican who was one of Trump’s top black surrogates in Georgia in the 2020 election has the former president’s backing.
Kemp pointed out that “As a conservative small business man, Mike knows firsthand how the Biden administration’s disastrous policies are hurting hard-working Georgians and communities across our state. Mike is strongly pro-life. , pro-2nd Amendment, and will fight hard to put Georgians first in Congress.”
And the governor noted that “I will be voting for Mike Collins in the June 21 GOP runoff, and I ask my fellow Republicans in the district to join me in sending a trusted conservative to Washington!”
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Jones, responding to the news, said “Throughout my political career, I’ve never been the establishment’s favorite. It’s something I’m proud of – not ashamed of – and that’s exactly why. President Trump stood by me. I’m not running for Congress to join the Establishment. I’m running for Congress to destroy it.”
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Collins edged Jones 26% to 22% in a multi-candidate field in Georgia’s May 24 primary, but as neither came close to winning a majority of the vote, they headed to a runoff of the elections on June 21. Collins has already won support from some other Republican candidates in the race who failed to advance. The winner of November’s general election will succeed Republican Representative Jody Hice, who launched an unsuccessful campaign for Georgia’s secretary of state rather than seek re-election.
Kemp edged former Sen. David Perdue by more than 50 points in last month’s Republican gubernatorial primary, which was a crushing defeat for Trump.
Four years ago, with the backing of the then president, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams. But Kemp angered Trump after certifying the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election after two recounts of the vote. Last year, Trump repeatedly urged Perdue to challenge the governor and endorsed him the day after the former senator announced his candidacy in December. Trump lambasted Kemp at two rallies he held in Georgia last fall and this spring, and pilloried the governor in Perdue campaign ads.
Perdue jumped into the race days after Abrams, a rising Democratic Party star and nationally known champion of voter rights, launched her second straight gubernatorial bid. Abrams was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Kemp in a rematch in November.
“This is absolutely Kemp’s revenge tour,” said a Georgia-based Republican consultant who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.
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Highlighting Kemp’s impressive win, the consultant said the governor “lets the scorecard do the talking and now he’s going to let the scorecard do the talking again and he’s doubling down on his brand of conservatism with which is clearly more powerful than that of Donald Trump in Georgia”.
Perdue wasn’t the only high profile Trump-backed candidate to be defeated in the Georgia primary. Hice lost by double digits to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump had also repeatedly attacked. And Trump-backed GOP Attorney General challenger John Gordon was taken down by incumbent Chris Carr.
Kemp, in his primary victory last month, won in the 10th congressional district by an even larger margin than his overall statewide margin. The district, which is reliably red, stretches from the eastern outskirts of Atlanta through rural areas east to the August outskirts and up to the North Carolina border. South.
Collins’ team tells Fox News there’s a good chance Kemp will join Collins on the campaign trail over the next few days before Tuesday’s primary.
Jones was originally a candidate for governor this cycle, hoping to win Trump’s endorsement in the primary against Kemp. But after endorsing Perdue, the former president convinced Jones to end his bid for governor and instead run for Hice’s open seat in Congress. Trump endorsed Jones when launching his House offer.
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Trump, in a recorded robocall this week, again praised Jones, saying “he’ll never let you down.”
And he slammed the Collins campaign for a recent attack on Jones, calling them “vicious political ads that aren’t true.”
Fox News’ David Lewkowict contributed to this report
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