Donald Trump has been famously obsessed with Georgia politics for the past few years, but he doesn’t have much to show for it. In November 2020, he became the first Republican since George H.W. Bush to lose the state in a presidential election. His efforts to reverse that defeat led to some of his most egregious and potentially criminal postelection wire-pulling, as documented in yesterday’s hearing by the House committee investigating January 6. Worse yet, his carping about Georgia’s “rigged” election system contributed crucially to the defeat of two Republican U.S. senators in a January 2021 runoff and the loss of the Senate for his party.
So far, Georgia has also been a real disaster zone for Trump’s plan to show his continued dominance of the GOP via endorsing candidates in the 2022 Republican primaries. His candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and insurance commissioner all lost in Georgia’s May 24 primary despite Trump’s heavy commitment of time and energy to the state. The renominations without runoffs of his archenemies Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger was particularly bitter.
The drubbing continued on June 21, the same day Raffensperger and two other Georgia witnesses offered riveting testimony on Trump’s postelection lies and smears before the January 6 committee. Down in Georgia, two Trump-endorsed congressional candidates, Jake Evans and Vernon Jones, lost their runoff elections badly. In the Sixth District, Evans was trounced by Rich McCormick 67 percent to 33 percent. And in the Tenth District, where Jody Hice foolishly gave up his seat to be Trump’s candidate for secretary of state, Jones won only 26 percent to trucking executive Mike Collins’s 74 percent. The ex-presidential brand didn’t mean a whole lot.
It’s important to note that this defiance of Trump’s wishes by Georgia Republican voters does not necessarily reflect a repudiation of his toxic ideology. McCormick reached out to Trump immediately in his moment of victory:
And Collins spent most of the campaign driving around the Tenth District in a tractor-trailer rig emblazoned with the words “Trump Agenda.” His runoff campaign against Jones was full of racist undertones, particularly his exploitation of unsubstantiated rape allegations to paint the veteran suburban-Atlanta politician as a threat to the women of the Tenth District who should be dealt with violently:
Collins is a nasty piece of work who ought to fit right in with future Georgia congressional colleagues Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde. But still, his victory added to Trump’s Peach State humiliation.
Georgia Republicans will move on to what is likely to be a close and vicious general-election campaign against a ticket led by Democrats Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock. But if his past behavior is any indication, Trump will have a lot of trouble swallowing his bile and cooperating with bitter enemies like Kemp and Raffensperger. After June 21, the 45th president may prefer to give Georgia a wide berth.
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