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Georgia rally marks debut of GOP primary ‘Trump ticket’
The rewards of an early Donald Trump endorsement were on display Saturday in Georgia when a three-man ticket of candidates he’s backing in 2022 Republican primaries were featured at one of his signature rallies. But GOP opponents of Trump-backed candidates aren’t folding in Georgia and some say the former president’s nod could hurt Republicans in a general election in the closely divided state.
Trump’s endorsement blitz is a frank attempt to keep remaking the party in his image, with Republicans eagerly courting his favor. But like everything else about the former president, it’s a rule-rewriting approach, said Casey Dominguez, a political science professor at the University of San Diego.
“We haven’t seen presidents in recent years try to drive a wedge within their own party, which is what happens in a primary election,” Dominguez said. “He’s playing factional politics in the party.”
It’s easy to see why they might want Trump’s backing. He maintains overwhelming support among Republican voters. Ballotpedia, which tracks Trump endorsements, says candidates he endorsed have won 37 of 43 competitive primaries since 2017.
Trump was joined at the rally in Perry, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) south of Atlanta by three candidates he has endorsed, including Herschel Walker, who recently launched a Senate campaign. Trump had urged the former football great to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.
In one of his first public appearances since entering the race, Walker on Saturday talked about his relationship with Trump, but also urged his listeners to “come together as a people” and not be upset with others “because they disagree with you.”
Also speaking was U.S. Rep Jody Hice, Trump’s choice against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. While Raffensperger refused the former president’s entreaties to “find” enough votes to overturn Trump’s narrow loss to Democratic President Joe Biden in Georgia, Hice objected to Georgia’s electors in Congress.
Completing the trio is state Sen. Burt Jones, an early Trump supporter who pushed measures to overturn Biden’s Georgia win and is running for lieutenant governor.
The rally, though, was all about Trump, who remains the star of his own show as numerous supporters arrived wearing Trump gear.
Despite a lack of credible evidence to support Trump’s allegations of mass voter fraud, the former president has continued to push the “Big Lie” that he won, turning it into a litmus test for GOP candidates. A majority of Republican voters continue to believe the election was stolen, despite dozens of state and local elections officials, numerous judges and Trump’s own attorney general saying Biden won fairly.
Although some primary fields have been winnowed by Trump’s endorsement, that hasn’t happened in Georgia.
Walker faces three other Republicans including Gary Black, the state agriculture commissioner. Black has attacked Walker, saying he’s untested. On Monday, Black rolled out endorsements from 55 state lawmakers, laying them atop endorsements from 76 county sheriffs, former Gov. Nathan Deal and former U.S. Rep Doug Collins, a onetime Trump favorite.
“It’s OK to be a fan of Herschel Walker the football player,” Black said. “But it’s also OK to want to win the Senate back and save our country from the chaos it’s in now. Georgians need an electable choice who can stand up to the national Democrats and $100 million or more in attack ads.”
Jones describes himself as an underdog in his primary against a powerful business-backed state senator, but recently said the former president’s backing “is going to be a pretty loud intercom saying this is a guy who will actually stand up for his constituents and stand up for conservative values.”


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