Former Vice President Mike Pence will campaign with Georgia’s incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp the day before this month’s GOP primary in his most significant political break with former President Donald Trump to date.
Kemp’s campaign announced Friday morning that Pence will headline a get-out-the-vote rally for Kemp on Monday, May 23, the day before the vote. That puts Pence in direct conflict with Trump-endorsed candidate David Perdue, who has been trailing in the polls.
Kemp is one of Trump’s top targets this election cycle because of his refusal to cooperate with Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” Pence said in a statement. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”
The news comes as Pence has taken steps to distance himself from Trump as the former congressman and Indiana governor considers a 2024 presidential run that could put him into direct competition with his former boss.
In February, Pence said Trump was “wrong” to insist that Pence had the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In a separate speech before top Republican donors, Pence urged the GOP to move on from the election.
“Elections are about the future,” Pence said in March. “My fellow Republicans, we can only win if we are united around an optimistic vision for the future based on our highest values. We cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles, or by relitigating the past.”
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pence’s plans. But Trump this week panned a trio of current and former Republican governors, including New Jersey’s Chris Christie, as “RINOs” — or “Republicans in Name Only” — for supporting Kemp.
“That tells you all you need to know about what you are getting in Georgia — just a continuation of bad elections and a real RINO if you vote for Brian Kemp,” Trump said.
The Georgia race is a gamble for Trump, who notched a major victory in Ohio earlier this month when J.D. Vance, the candidate he endorsed, came from behind to win a competitive GOP Senate primary. But last week, his pick for governor in Nebraska, Charles Herbster, lost his primary.
Trump faces further challenges ahead, including in Pennsylvania next week, where his pick for Senate, celebrity heart surgeon Mehmet Oz, is locked in a tight, three-way race.
Kemp had been substantially ahead of Perdue in polls in March and April, and many expect Kemp will be able to prevail without a June runoff, which would be triggered if no candidate won a majority of the vote.
Perdue, a former senator, has also been lagging in fundraising and had about $900,000 cash on hand on April 30, less than a month before the May 24 primary, while Kemp had $10.7 million.
The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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