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Trump-backed candidates are winning elsewhere. Why not Georgia?

Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

ATLANTA — U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney's resounding primary defeat to a Donald Trump-backed challenger in Wyoming on Tuesday is only the latest in a string of victories by the former president's preferred picks.

And each time a Trump-backed contender notches a major victory ahead of his likely comeback attempt, Georgia seems more like an outlier: one of the few states where Trump's attempt to install loyalists in top offices — and oust perceived threats in the GOP ranks — was mostly rebuffed.

Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, targeted by Trump for refusing his demands to overturn the 2020 presidential election, humiliated Trump-backed challengers in May.

Two other statewide GOP incumbents also brushed aside contenders who possessed Trump's blessing. And Republican voters rejected a pair of U.S. House candidates in June runoffs who were backed by the former president.

Even the two victorious Trump-endorsed contenders in competitive races arguably didn't need his support.

Herschel Walker scared most would-be rivals out of the U.S. Senate contest thanks to his sky-high name recognition; Burt Jones dug deep into his wallet to outspend his top rival on the way to the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.

 

So why was Georgia different? We talked to pundits, professors and politicians for their insight.

NAME BRAND. Never underestimate the power of incumbency in a Georgia Republican race. Not only does it give candidates that "I" beside their name on the ballot, they also can tout a record.

Jason Shepherd, a professor and former Cobb County GOP chair, noted that in 2006 Democrats Thurbert Baker and Michael Thurmond were reelected to statewide posts even as Republicans swept every other office.

"It also explains why both Raffensperger and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene both won their primaries in the 14th District," Shepherd said of voters in the northwest Georgia territory who backed both a Trump nemesis and his staunch ally in the same election.

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