Pence to lead rally in Georgia for Kemp, challenging Trump ahead of primaries

“Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” Pence said. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as Governor of the great state of Georgia.”

Pence has shown an increasing willingness to undermine Trump since Trump sharply criticized the former vice president for certifying the 2020 election results instead of taking legally dubious steps to overturn them. Pence has stood by his actions on January 6, 2021, and has called on the GOP to stop focusing on the latest presidential election, even as Trump continues to litigate it.

Pence has also implicitly criticized Trump for his words of admiration about Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling a Republican National Committee donor retreat this spring that “there is no place in this party for Putin apologists.”

Pence, who like Trump is weighing a 2024 presidential bid, hinted last November that he planned to endorse Kemp, when he said at a Republican Governors Association fundraiser that he would support incumbent governors facing challenges in recent years. primaries. And Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, recently joined the Kemp campaign as a senior adviser. Axios first reported on Short’s role with Kemp.

The May 23 get-out-the-vote rally has been in the works for several weeks, a person familiar with the planning said.

Trump has campaigned and raised money for Perdue, and his political action committee has been funding television ads targeting Kemp. But Kemp heads into the final days of the primary as the strong favorite, with recent polls showing him with a wide lead over Perdue. Top Republicans are increasingly convinced that Kemp will eclipse 50 percent of the GOP primary vote, giving him the nomination outright rather than being dragged into a one-on-one runoff with Perdue.

While Trump has had early success helping endorsed candidates prevail in House and Senate primaries this year, things have looked more difficult for him in gubernatorial races, which are often driven by dynamics. more idiosyncratic venues.

The Trump-backed candidate in the Nebraska gubernatorial race, Charles Herbster, lost Tuesday’s primary to a rival contender backed by incumbent Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. Trump is also backing a primary challenger to Republican Idaho Governor Brad Little in next week’s primary, though Little is expected to easily prevail.

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