Georgia Governor Brian Kemp may have fallen out of Donald Trump’s good graces by certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win in the Peach State, but he still has the support of the number-two man in the Trump administration: Former Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr Kemp’s campaign has announced that Mr Pence will headline a get-out-the-vote rally on 23 May, the day before Georgia Republican voters will decide if they’ll renominate him for a second term or reject him in favour of Trump-backed challenger (and ex-senator) David Purdue.
In a statement, Mr Kemp said he and his family are “incredibly honoured” to have the former vice president’s backing and called Mr Pence’s leadership “instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia”.
“His commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party. We could not be more grateful for his friendship to our family and state, and we look forward to welcoming him back to the campaign trail in Georgia,” he said.
Mr Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams for the governorship with Mr Trump’s backing four years ago, but the former president soured on his one-time ally after he certified results of the the 2020 election, in which Mr Biden became the first Democrat to carry the state since Bill Clinton did so in 1992.
Despite being under criminal investigation for allegedly pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” non-existent votes that would have overturned Mr Biden’s victory, Mr Trump has continued to lie about the conduct of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, which he falsely claims was rife with fraud.
He has also continued to blame Mr Kemp for his defeat, and has endorsed Mr Purdue, who has taken up Mr Trump’s lies as a standard part of his campaign stump speech.
Yet Mr Kemp has retained the backing of fellow GOP governors such as ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts, and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, the latter of whom also certified Mr Biden’s win in his state.
Mr Trump complained about Mr Kemp’s continued support from other Republicans in a statement on Thursday, calling him the “worst ‘election integrity’ governor” in the US and calling Mr Kemp’s fellow governors “RINOs,” or Republicans in Name Only.
But Mr Pence, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, doesn’t appear deterred from supporting Mr Kemp, who he called “one of the most successful conservative governors in America” in a statement.
“He built a safer and stronger Georgia by cutting taxes, empowering parents and investing in teachers, funding law enforcement, and standing strong for the right to life. Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” he said. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”