Georgia Republicans fantasize about ‘unity rally’ after Trump ravaged their primaries

Georgia Republicans fantasize about ‘unity rally’ after Trump ravaged their primaries

Georgia Republicans avoided the worst-case scenario Tuesday in their marquee primaries for governor and Senate, avoiding runoffs in both critical contests.

Sitting GOP Gov. Brian Kemp trounced Trump-endorsed former Sen. David Perdue, winning nearly three-quarters of primary voters.

Meanwhile, Trump-endorsed former Georgia football star Herschel Walker ran away with the Senate primary, winning some 68% of the vote. His nearest challenger, Gary Black, finished at just over 13%.

Even embattled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who famously resisted Donald Trump’s order to “find” him votes, won by a comfortable margin over Trump-endorsed Rep. Jody Hice, 52% – 33%.  

But divisions within the party, according to Politico, still run deep in a state where the general election matchups, particularly for governor and Senate, could be decided by the slimmest of margins.

The Republican State Party chair, for instance, David Shafer, is widely viewed as having stoked internal animosity by actively recruiting candidates to challenge GOP incumbents—a completely unorthodox move for a party chair in normal political times. Shafer also openly supported Perdue’s insurgent run against Kemp.

“I know, he was very involved in helping Perdue and has been helping Trumpworld in the governor’s race, specifically,” a GOP operative said, noting that Shafer’s role has sparked “widespread concern.”

“I mean, he’s pretty blatantly been opposed to Raffensperger publicly. I know for a fact that he tried to recruit candidates in the insurance commissioner race,” added the operative.

The Kemp and Walker campaigns reportedly have an amicable relationship despite Trump’s divided loyalties, and Republicans are privately discussing holding some sort of “unity rally” to bring the party together again across the state.

But unifying the GOP would also require those who lost to show up and graciously accept defeat, pledge their support to the victors, and then sulk in silence.

Speaking before the outcomes were known, one Republican working with several campaigns offered, “I don’t think that these Trump-endorsed candidates are going to show up at a unity rally if they lose.”

In the race for Attorney General where incumbent Chris Carr prevailed over John Gordon, the GOP consultant observed, “I don’t see John Gordon showing up for Chris or Chris showing up for John Gordon, or Hice and Raffensperger. I don’t see Perdue showing up for Kemp.”

Given that scenario, the consultant also pooh-poohed the optics of holding a “unity rally” that served only to highlight lingering discord.

“I don’t think that this is necessarily a good idea if, the visual is, the people who lose don’t show up. And I think that’s a distinct possibility,” said the Republican.

One candidate who won’t be showing up to support his rival candidate is the man who ran against Walker, who has an alleged history of spousal abuse and a self-admitted history of murderous impulses. In fact, Gary Black specifically said he would not support Walker, singling out his history of domestic abuse.

“Anybody who has put his hands on a woman like he has and has not taken responsibility has not earned my vote,” Black told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein last week.

Asked about a so-called unity event, Black’s communications director, Dan McLagan, added, “If Herschel were to be the nominee, people who have endorsed him are going to have to explain why they got behind a guy who choked his wife unconscious and threatened shootouts with police. That would be … uncomfortable for them.”

And regardless of what individual candidates decide, it’s inconceivable that Trump would attend a unity rally benefitting Kemp at the top of the ticket along with Secretary of State Raffensperger, both of whom committed perhaps the biggest betrayals of the 2020 cycle in Trump’s view.

At a tele-rally on Monday, Trump continued to denigrate Kemp.

“I don’t believe Kemp can do it,” he said of the governor’s chances of beating Democratic nominee and former Georgia state House minority leader Stacey Abrams. “He’s got too many people in the Republican Party that will refuse to vote. They’re just not going to go out.”

But since definitively losing at least four of the five statewide races in Georgia where he endorsed, Trump has thus far gone dark. In a statement about the tragic massacre at a Texas elementary school Tuesday, Trump said it was “so hard to think or report about anything else” following the shooting.

Not to worry, though, Trump will undoubtedly reemerge—with a vengeance.

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