Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp cruised to victory in the Republican primary Tuesday, easily defeating Trump-endorsed former Sen. David Perdue.
With 23% of precincts reporting when the race was called, Kemp held 73.1% of the vote, while Perdue had just 22.3%. Longshots Catherine Davis, Kandiss Taylor, and Tom Williams divvied up the remaining vote.
Perdue told supporters that he had called Kemp to concede and was “fully supporting” the incumbent, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“Tomorrow morning you are going to hear me going to work to go to work to make damn sure Stacey Abrams is not the next governor of Georgia,” he said.
Kemp will face off against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in November for the second consecutive gubernatorial election. Kemp defeated Abrams in 2018 and has held a consistent polling lead over the Democrat this time around.
Tuesday’s election was marked by massive turnout during Georgia’s early voting period, with the state secretary of state’s office tallying 483,149 Republican early votes and 368,949 Democratic early votes as of Friday.
The impressive early voting numbers come one year after the state came under fire for passing an election reform bill which President Biden slammed as “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
That’s a huge spike from the 2018 midterms which saw just under 300,000 early in-person votes.
Passed in March 2021, the legislation imposed new rules on absentee voting — including requiring a photo ID and shortening the absentee voting window.
Georgia also saw a spike in absentee voting in the primary, with at least 29,220 Republicans voting absentee compared to 14,795 in 2018 while 31,704 Democrats voted absentee this year compared to 12,051 during the last midterm election.
The result was the most stinging rebuke yet of a candidate endorsed by the 45th president, who saw one of his endorsed candidates lose in a primary for just the fourth time this year. Three of those defeats have come in governor’s races.
Trump campaigned for Kemp during the governor’s successful 2018 run, but the relationship soured following the 2020 election. The ex-president has repeatedly blasted Kemp for failing to overturn Georgia’s election results, ripping him as both “weak” and a “RINO,” an acronym for Republican in Name Only.
Trump endorsed Perdue in December and made a brief appearance during a tele-rally for the former senator on Monday.
During his eight-minute appearance, Trump reportedly slammed Kemp, saying he has “done the worst job of any governor in probably decades.”
Despite the repeated criticism from the former president, Kemp garnered support from several other top Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former President George W. Bush.
“Brian Kemp, frankly, is one of the most successful Republican governors in America,” Pence told a rally crowd at the Cobb County Airport in Kennesaw on Monday night.
Later in his remarks, the former veep took an implied swipe at Trump’s 2020 election obsession, calling on Georgia Republicans to back Kemp and “send a deafening message all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future.”
High-profile candidates endorsed by Trump cruised to victory elsewhere in Georgia, as well as in Texas and Arkansas.
Former University of Georgia football standout and pro-football running back Herschel Walker easily defeated six other GOP candidates to win the US Senate primary in the Peach State, positioning him up to take on incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in the general election.
Walker had 70.4% of the vote with 16% of precincts reporting when the race was called.
The 1980 national champion and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner was the heavy favorite to win the primary after securing endorsements from both former Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump called into Walker’s afterparty to rally the candidate and his supporters with a ringing victory speech.
“You were the greatest football player, you’ll be an even greater politician and senator,” Trump said.
“What a long distance you’ve come, right? What a long distance. And I’m only going to be more proud of you after November,” he added.
“There’s nobody like this man. He’s a winner and he’s a champion, and we all love him. And congratulations to everybody in that room.”
Walker held a narrow lead in a head-to-head matchup against Sen. Raphael Warnock, who easily brushed back a challenge from Tamara Johnson-Shealey Tuesday night in his bid to secure a full six-year term in the Senate, winning more than 96 percent of the vote in preliminary results.
The 52-year-old senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was first sent to Washington by voters last year in a special election.
Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene easily won a crowded Republican primary in Georgia on Tuesday, fending off five challengers and surviving ongoing backlash over her controversial statements and behavior.
The 47-year-old political lightning rod leaned in to her national notoriety to raise millions for her first reelection bid and will now run in the general election to represent the safely Republican 11th Congressional District.
The incumbent held 70.4% of the vote when the race was called with 44% of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Greene, a Trump loyalist who has peddled conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, was stripped of her House committee assignments last year and was booted from Twitter in January.
In response, a group of voters unsuccessfully tried to get Greene kicked off the primary ballot earlier this month, saying she was ineligible because she had engaged in insurrection and encouraged the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot that disrupted Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
In Texas, a Trump endorsement and broad GOP support helped dash a political dynasty as Attorney General Ken Paxton fended off a challenge from George P. Bush to win the Republican primary.
Paxton took home the nomination with 61.1% of the vote over Bush’s 32.9% in the run-off election. The race was called by the Associated Press with 51% of the state’s precincts reporting.
The election was held two months after the March primary, where both candidates failed to garner the 50% necessary to avoid a showdown. At the time, Bush earned 22% of the vote, 20 percentage points behind Paxton.
Bush – son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and grandson of former President George H. W. Bush – had been seeking to unseat Paxton since June of last year, saying he “brought way too much scandal and too little integrity to this office.”
Paxton has been accused of abusing his office by at least eight of his former deputies and is facing felony securities-fraud allegations, but repeatedly won favor with Trump, who has praised him for pushing hard on the border and false claims of fraud about the 2020 presidential election.
In Arkansas, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Sanders coasted to victory in her primary election for governor in Arkansas, a seat once held by her father Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee easily defeated radio host Doc Washburn, winning 82.2% of the vote with 35% of precincts reporting.
Washburn had mounted a long-shot bid to upset Sanders, who spent 23 months as Trump’s chief spokesperson between 2017 and 2019, but couldn’t overcome a wide gap in polling and fundraising.
Sanders crisscrossed the state and ran a campaign touting conservative values focusing on education, economic development and rebuilding the state’s workforce and infrastructure.
“We have to do a better job and that starts at the basic level — making sure we’re actually educating, not indoctrinating our kids, we are empowering parents, not government bureaucrats, and that we are preparing kids for the workforce — not a lifetime of government dependency,” she told KATV over the weekend.
Sen. John Boozman won the Republican primary in Arkansas with 57.5% of the vote in preliminary results.
Boozman had pushed back on Trump’s false claims of election fraud but still received an endorsement from the former president.
And back in Georgia, Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath defeated Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in suburban Atlanta after being forced into a rare incumbent-on-incumbent primary after Republicans redrew the congressional map. McBath, whose son was murdered, has become a vocal advocate for gun control.
With AP wires