ATLANTA (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign to play the role of kingmaker in this year’s U.S. midterm elections faced its biggest test yet Tuesday, when polls closed in the Georgia primary and Republican voters waited to see if Gov. Brian Kemp would resist Trump’s attempt to remove him from office.
Trump has backed former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s lead challenge against Kemp, who angered the former president by refusing to try to reverse his 2020 election loss.
While opinion polls show Kemp with a wide lead over Perdue, another Trump-backed candidate, former football star Herschel Walker, is the favorite to win the Republican nomination for the US Senate in Georgia, although some party leaders worry that he could turn out to be a flawed candidate. candidate for the general elections.
Polls were scheduled to close in Georgia at 7 pm ET (2300 GMT).
Whoever wins, the environment looks increasingly favorable for Republicans in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 36%, the lowest level of his presidency, reflecting voter concern about rising inflation.
Trump’s obsession with his Georgia loss to Biden, a Democrat, has spilled over into other Republican races across the state, including for secretary of state, the state’s top election official.
Incumbent Brad Raffensperger, who rejected a request from Trump in 2020 to “find” enough votes to alter the outcome, is facing off with US Rep.
Trump has made more than 190 endorsements since leaving office, mostly for incumbent Republicans who face no serious primary opposition.
He has amassed a mixed record in competitive contests; more recently, his candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania, TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz, is in a race that is still too close a week after the vote.
Republicans are the favorites to win a majority in the US House of Representatives on November 8, although analysts say Democrats have a better chance of retaining control of the Senate.
The loss of either chamber would stall Biden’s legislative agenda and give Republicans the power to launch investigations that are distracting and potentially politically damaging.
KEMP READY FOR VICTORY
Opinion polls show Georgia incumbent Kemp well above the 50% threshold required to win the nomination and avoid a runoff against Perdue, who has repeated Trump’s untruths about losing Georgia due to widespread voter fraud. .
In a radio interview Monday, Perdue criticized Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is expected to face Kemp in a rematch of the 2018 election, after she denounced Georgia’s high rates of incarceration and maternal mortality.
She is not from here. Let her go back to where she came from if she doesn’t like it here,” she said. Abrams, who is black, was born in Wisconsin and moved to Georgia with her family as a child.
Abrams declined to address Perdue’s comments at a news conference Tuesday.
“I have heard Republicans for the last six months attack me, but they have done nothing to attack the challenges facing Georgia,” he said.
Kemp’s growing campaign has garnered support from some high-profile Republicans who have been targets of Trump’s wrath, including Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence.
Echoing other Kemp supporters, retired technology sales executive Brian Seifried, 52, said in an interview in Atlanta that he liked Kemp’s business-friendly policies, his hard line on immigration and his decision to enact a broad set of electoral restrictions after the 2020 election.
“President Trump’s endorsement did not influence what I think is best for Georgia,” Seifried said.
Walker, a former star running back at the University of Georgia and the National Football League, has held a comfortable lead in opinion polls and will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock in November.
Some Republican leaders have expressed concern that Walker’s past, including allegations of domestic violence, could affect his chances in the general election.
Four other states — Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and Minnesota — will also hold primary elections on Tuesday.
In Alabama, US Rep. Mo Brooks, who lost Trump’s endorsement after saying it was time to put the 2020 election behind him, is among those fighting for a Senate seat. Trump-era White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the favorite to win the Republican nomination for governor in Arkansas.
In Texas, a Democratic-versus-Democratic runoff election pits Henry Cuellar, the only House Democrat who opposes abortion rights, against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.
Embattled state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has Trump’s backing despite a series of scandals, faces a challenge from Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the grandson of former President George HW Bush.
Elsewhere in Georgia, two Democratic congresswomen, Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, find themselves in a rare incumbent-versus-incumbent primary after Republican lawmakers redrew the state’s congressional map.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Katharine Jackson, and Nathan Layne; Writing by Joseph Ax and Nathan Layne; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Alistair Bell)