Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday steamrolled over former Sen. David Perdue in their primary showdown in Georgia — delivering a public blow to former President Donald Trump’s efforts to dethrone the incumbent and relitigate the results of the presidential 2020 election.
Despite Mr. Trump‘s unrelenting attacks and support for Mr. Perdue, voters made it clear they view Mr. Kemp as the GOP’s best bet to beat Democrat Stacey Abrams this fall in a state that has transformed from being solidly red to purple in recent years.
A more shocking repudiation of Mr. Trump and his “stop the steal” supporters played out in the primary race for secretary of state where incumbent Brad Raffensperger declared victory over the former president’s hand-picked challenger Rep. Jody Hice.
Mr. Kemp was declared the winner just over an hour after polls closed at 7 p.m.
With 93% of the estimated vote counted, Mr. Kemp had a 73.4% to 22.1% lead over Mr. Perdue.
Mr. Kemp only needed to win more than 50% of the vote to advance to the general election in November and avoid a June 21 two-person runoff race.
SEE ALSO: Ga. Dems pick progressive McBath over ‘Blue Dog’ Bourdeaux
Mr. Kemp got a boost on the final day of the campaign from former Vice President Mike Pence, who lined up on the opposite side of the contest from his former boss, telling voters that “elections are about the future.”
Ms. Abrams — a former state House minority leader, voting rights activist and fundraising juggernaut — officially captured the Democratic nomination after running unopposed in the primary.
Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, co-chairs of the Republican Governors Association, said voters rewarded Mr. Kemp for being “a results-driven leader who has always put Georgia first.”
“The contrast between Governor Kemp‘s record of cutting taxes, empowering parents, supporting small businesses, and putting his faith in the people of Georgia stands in stark contrast with Stacey Abrams, who believes that only she knows what’s best,” they said in a statement.
Mr. Raffensperger, who oversaw the 2020 election, also faced the wrath of Mr. Trump.
The former president sought revenge against Mr. Raffensperger after he rebuffed Mr. Trump‘s personal pleas in late 2020 to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner in Georgia.
SEE ALSO: Trump-backed Herschel Walker wins Georgia GOP Senate primary
With 92% of the estimated vote counted, Mr. Raffensperger held a 51.8% to 33.9% lead over Mr. Hice.
Though the race had yet to be called, Mr. Raffensperger declared victory, saying he expected to win the race outright over Mr. Hice, who fully embraced Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims.
Mr. Trump still emerged with some bragging rights as former NFL star Herschel Walker dominated the GOP Senate nomination race, putting him on a crash course with Sen. Raphael Warnock in what will be one of the most-watched races of the 2022 midterm elections.
The former president urged Mr. Walker to jump into the Senate race, and has been among the former Heisman Trophy winner’s biggest cheerleaders.
With 15% of the vote counted, Mr. Walker had 70% of the vote. Gary Black was the only other candidate even to break into double digits, at 13%.
Mr. Walker’s easy win in the primary isn’t likely to be replicated in the general election, where he faces the state’s increasingly Democratic electorate and millions of dollars that will be pumped into the state in an effort to defeat him. He will square off against Sen. Raphael Warnock, who easily captured the Democratic nomination.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters, also cruised to victory in her multi-candidate race in the 14th Congressional District.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Lucy McBath was the projected winner in her race against Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.
Ms. McBath, best known as a gun control advocate, opted against running for reelection in the 6th Congressional District after the Republican-controlled legislature approved new congressional maps that put her seat in a more conservative area.
Voters on Tuesday also went to the polls in Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, where there were runoff races following the March 1 primary election. Minnesota voters also were set to decide a special election in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who also had Mr. Trump’s support, was the projected winner in his runoff race against George P. Bush. Mr. Bush, the state’s land commissioner, is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush.
Both parties were keeping a watchful eye on Rep. Henry Cuellar’s race against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. Mr. Cuellar is the last pro-life Democrat in the House.
With 95% of the estimated vote counted, Mr. Cuellar held a 50.5% to 49.5% lead over Ms. Cisneros.
In Alabama, Katie Britt and Rep. Mo Brooks advanced to a runoff race for the GOP nomination. They are running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby’s seat in the fall election.
Ms. Britt previously worked for Mr. Shelby and is a former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Brooks early on in the race, but he later rescinded it after Mr. Brooks struggled to gain traction in the race.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was declared the winner in her race, capturing more than half of the vote.
In Arkansas, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emerged victorious in the GOP primary for governor. Mrs. Sanders is a daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Sen. John Boozman won renomination in his Republican primary race.
The primary election in Georgia threw some cold water on the notion that new election rules passed by the GOP-controlled legislature would depress participation. More than 850,000 Georgians cast ballots during the weeks of early in-person voting.
Mr. Kemp’s political fate was thrown into uncertainty after President Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 (and the first non-Southerner since John F. Kennedy in 1960) to carry the state in a presidential election.
Mr. Trump has spent the ensuing 17 months accusing Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger of letting Democrats manipulate the 2020 election in Georgia.
The former president went all-in for Mr. Perdue, headlining rallies, starring in television and radio commercials and dumping $2 million into the race.
Mr. Kemp, meanwhile, polished his conservative bona fides over the last four years, signing off on new election rules and reopening the state economy batted by COVID restrictions despite warnings from public health officials.
Mr. Kemp more recently signed bills greenlighting a massive tax cut, loosening gun laws and opening the door for a ban on transgender athletes. Last week, he announced Hyundai would invest more than $5 billion to build an electric-vehicle plant near Savannah that is expected to create thousands of jobs.
His image also was buttressed by his high-profile 2018 victory over Ms. Abrams, and by Mr. Perdue’s loss in 2020 to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
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