ICYMI: Statewide Primary Clashes Continue for Georgia Republicans

July 16, 2021

After Georgia Republicans lost the presidential election and both Senate races, statewide GOP incumbents and candidates are more vulnerable than ever. As primary races heat up, Republican incumbents and hopefuls remain mired in messy internal politics and controversies while Trump looms large over the Georgia GOP.

“Republican primaries are shaping up to be more chaotic than ever as Trump continues to play kingmaker within the Georgia GOP. It’s clear that the numerous Republicans vying for statewide office care more about what the former president thinks of them than they do about the actual needs of working Georgians,” said Rebecca Galanti, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “No matter who comes out on top in these messy Republican primaries, come November 2022 Georgia voters will remember that it was Democrats who brought us out of the pandemic, rebuilt our economy, and put Georgia on a path towards prosperity – all while Republicans were too caught up in internal politics.”

Here’s a recap of another messy week for Georgia Republican in statewide races:

Potential Kemp Challenger Courts Trump, Upping the Ante in Primary Race

  • The AJC reports that Ames Barnett, wealthy businessman and former mayor of Washington, Georgia (pop. 4,000), is “moving closer to a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp.” Barnett met with Trump this week at CPAC, where he gave effusive praise to the former president, who notably despises Kemp.
  • But Barnett brings his own baggage to the race as well – he has been criticized for glorifying Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and cast the deciding vote that defunded the police department in Washington, Georgia.

Chaos Reigns in Senate Race as Walker Builds Campaign & Loeffler Still Weighs Run

  • With signs pointing toward Herschel Walker preparing for a U.S. Senate campaign, both the GOP field and donors have been frozen waiting for Walker to make a move. As the AJC notes, “many of the party’s movers and shakers have yet to pick sides – or dip into their wallets – with the field still so muddled.”
  • Meanwhile, failed politician Kelly Loeffler continues to mull another run while the GOP field raises cash to challenge Walker for their party’s nomination – promising the messy, expensive primary Republicans hoped to avoid.

Open Primary for Lieutenant Governor Becomes Trump Proxy War 

  • Former president Trump announced a rare un-endorsement of State Sen. Butch Miller, current front-runner in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor.
  • Trump said Miller did not do enough to fight the results of the presidential election, another proof point that total loyalty to Trump’s election fraud conspiracy is increasingly necessary to be in today’s GOP
  • Trump’s statement was well-received by State Sen. Burt Jones, who is expected to jump in the race and shift the primary further to the extreme right.

Attorney General Carr Faces Intensified Scrutiny for Role in Jan. 6 Insurrection

  • A non-partisan government watchdog group blasted Attorney General Chris Carr as a threat to American democracy, citing his role promoting the January 6 insurrection.
  • Carr was chair of the Republican Attorney Generals Association when it paid to promote the conspiracy-fueled rally-turned-deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
  • The watchdog group naming Carr a top target means the scrutiny he’s faced isn’t going away anytime soon, despite his hollow attempt to distance himself from the optics of supporting an insurrection.

Secretary of State Primary Remains Focal Point of Trump’s Revenge

  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has become the national focus of Trump’s revenge for losing the presidential election, with The Atlantic reporting: “Targeted by Trump and abandoned by the state party, Raffensperger has no prominent Republicans publicly in his corner, nor even much of a campaign apparatus.”
  • Republicans quietly warn that Raffensperger’s Trump-backed, well-funded primary challenger, Jody Hice, would be nothing but a Trump puppet: “There’s no evidence to suggest that he’d be his own man…There’s no evidence to suggest that he’d think for himself.” 
  • Georgia Republicans continue to use Raffensperger as a punching bag to score political points with the GOP’s increasingly far-right base and curry favor with Trump, including potential Lieutenant Governor hopeful Burt Jones.

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