TURES COLUMN: Will Brian Kemp be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee?

Published 2:07 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp destroyed Donald Trump’s handpicked choice, former US Senator David Perdue. Under a withering assault from the defeated President Trump, Kemp showed fellow GOP members scared to stand up to the former leader exactly how it’s done. For every Republican who would like a solid conservative in place of a megalomaniac extremist, Kemp’s your choice for the GOP 2024 nomination.

Back in 2018, Trump tried to take credit for Kemp’s election. But evidence from polls tells a different tale. Kemp jumped well ahead of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the surveys before Trump’s late endorsement arrived. Trump’s endorsement actually weakened Kemp against Stacey Abrams, helping make the 2018 gubernatorial contest a tight contest.

But since the election, Trump has gone all out to defeat Kemp. His PAC dropped six figures to have Kemp ousted. He labeled Kemp a “RINO” or “Republican In Name Only,” though it’s beginning to stand for “Republican Independent of Nutty Officials.” He touted Stacey Abrams as a better choice. He held “Stop the Steal” rallies in Georgia, blasting Kemp.

What was Kemp’s big crime? He didn’t call a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to anoint Trump the winner of the Peach State or approve of some “alternative electors.”

I’ve been to Kemp’s rallies. It’s clear to anyone except the most blind Trump acolyte that the Georgia Governor is conservative. He sticks to his guns but you don’t get the sense that he’s doing it to be mean on the campaign tour, in general. Sure those gun ads were cringeworthy, but that will keep Trump from beating him in deep red states, perhaps.There’s a mountain of evidence that many Republican politicians are disgusted with Donald Trump, but fear crossing him and his supporters, concerned that they’ll be primaried or even defeated in the general election if hard-core MAGA stay home.

By stomping the Trump-Perdue ticket in Georgia by 50 percentage points, Kemp’s shown that his fellow Republicans need a big backbone, to stick to their guns, and not to kneel before Trump at the Mar-A-Lago Temple.

Trump supporters will tout that endorsement record and claim Georgia was a fluke. But research of mine in 2020 has been confirmed by others.

Many of those endorsed by Trump were running unopposed or faced only token opposition at best. When the election is contested, the Trump advantage melts away. In 2020, Trump’s picks did no better than a coin-flip, and the jury is still out on whether a Trump anointing means a win. Heck, once Trump unendorsed Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, the Congressman resurrected himself in the polls!

The former president still gets the lion share of news coverage. Analysis of news hits shows he gets more media attention than Biden and all former U.S. Presidents. Polls prop him up against Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and Ted Cruz, not exactly a strong set of opponents. And some surveys even have DeSantis leading Trump. Imagine what Kemp could do nationwide with even a decent amount of media coverage.

As long as Kemp stays in politics, he’ll be a revenge target of Trump’s. The only solution for the Georgia governor is to take on the former President who’s dragging down the GOP. When others see Kemp’s courage, and watch him rise in support, perhaps they’ll also lose their fear, find their voice, and speak up for what the party used to stand for, which never was for one-man rule, backing Russia, demanding loyalty while offering none in return, or giving speeches where the horrible 1/6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol followed.