Trump: There's something fishy about Brian Kemp's primary win in Georgia

AP Photo/Joe Maiorana

This is a mistake, and not just in a moral and civic sense. It’s a mistake for Trump’s own 2024 ambitions. Especially if the doubt he casts on Kemp ends up electing Stacey Abrams this fall.


That statement links to a post by former Newsmax reporter Emerald Robinson, who got kicked off of Twitter last year after she claimed Luciferase was being put in COVID vaccines to track recipients. Newsmax let her go shortly thereafter; she now works at Mike Lindell’s online platform. This is the sort of election “analysis” a once and possibly future president has been consuming since November 2020 to convince him that something was amiss with Biden’s victory.

Robinson’s theory of why Kemp’s win “stinks” boils down to two points. First: “On Primary Day in Georgia, Kemp gets 74% and Perdue gets 22%. Nobody in any election in America gets 74% of the votes. Ever. It doesn’t happen.” But that’s untrue. In the same state, on the same ballot as Kemp, Herschel Walker got nearly 70 percent of the vote running in a much more crowded field than Kemp. And Marjorie Taylor Greene cleared the 70 percent threshold in her own six-way primary.

Second, Robinson cherry-picks one poll of the state that showed Trump-endorsed candidates doing much better downballot than they ended up doing on Election Day. But that poll was old, from early April. And there was evidence in other polling of a move towards Kemp as the primary approached. Two polls in the final weeks showed his lead ballooning and touching 60 percent. Perdue ran out of money and wasn’t running TV ads as often. Between the numbers and the general impression of a Perdue collapse, you can imagine Kemp voters turning out en masse to run up the score while marginal MAGA voters decided not to bother showing up for Perdue. Et voila — a 74/22 win.


Robinson also spends time touting Trump’s endorsement as the most powerful force in the political universe. Uh, no. The most powerful force is probably incumbency, which is why Trump-backed candidates have performed poorly in gubernatorial races especially this year. Republican voters do care about Trump’s preferences, but it seems they’re more willing to care when Congress is involved. Congress doesn’t do anything anymore, after all; one can treat a congressional race as a litmus test for tribal affiliation. Governors do matter to voters’ day-to-day lives, however, so they’re not going to waste their votes as eagerly in those races for the sake of helping Trump settle a grudge. Kemp won by 50 points not because something stinks in Georgia but because he’s been a good governor and voters wanted to stick with him. And because Perdue was an underwhelming challenger, the opposite of a true-blue MAGA populist.

All of that being true, why is Trump amplifying a claim that Kemp cheated? For the same reason he claimed Biden cheated in 2020 and Ted Cruz cheated in the 2016 Iowa caucus: He’s a whiny-baby sore loser who can’t cope with losing a popularity contest except by impugning his opponent’s integrity.

And as he pulls this shtick with a politician whom Republicans like, i.e. Kemp, instead of one whom they disdain, he risks making himself a laughingstock even among voters who otherwise support him. That’s what I mean by saying that this is a mistake for him. “Does Trump not realize that accusing other Republicans of stealing an election could water down his Big Lie/lead some GOP voters who maybe kinda believed it in 2020, to start questioning if he’s really just a sore loser?” asked Politico’s Rachel Bade. Right, there’s that, but there’s also the fatigue factor of hearing him still harping on it. As played out as Trump’s election conspiracy theories already are, imagine how much more played out they’ll be by the start of the 2024 primaries, more than a year and a half from now. Some Republicans are already imagining it:


“I think that running on the invalidity of the 2020 election is a mistake, because the American people are looking for solutions to the problems that Joe Biden created,” the person with knowledge of the former president’s thinking added. “Will Donald Trump talk about solutions? Absolutely. But unfortunately, he’s wrapped around the axel of what they did to him in 2020. And he’s right, but the American people aren’t as interested in that.”

A former senior Trump administration official echoed these concerns, telling the Caller that he hopes Trump’s advisor is “really strong” to “advise him away from re-litigating 2020.” Still, this Trump administration official highlighted the fact that “election integrity will still be important.”

Despite these worries, the person familiar with the Trump team’s thinking gave it a “100%” likelihood that Trump leans into election fraud in 2024 – and there are some who believe this strategy could actually help the former president, arguing that more people believe the rigged election story now than when the 2020 election played out.

It’s tremendously embarrassing for the party that Trump’s 2020 crankery hasn’t cost him the support of Republican voters in 2024. What may cost him their support, though, is the growing sense that he not only won’t move on but maybe can’t move on. He’s obsessed, and that obsession doesn’t play well in contrast with a character like Ron DeSantis who’s focused on winning whatever the next culture-war battle to come down the pike is.


Eighteen more months of that comparison laid out before Republican voters will not redound to Trump’s advantage.

There’s another problem with his and Robinson’s theory of Kemp’s win “stinking,” incidentally. If the fix was in to boost Kemp and other Trump enemies like Brad Raffensperger, how do we explain Herschel Walker’s landslide? Why is the alleged rigging election forever happening at the expense of some MAGA candidates but not others? The same fallacy complicated Trump’s 2020 “stop the steal” pitch: Republicans downballot had a very good night that year, losing zero House seats and nearly retaining control of the Senate. The only Republican who underperformed was Trump himself. A party bent on rigging elections would be idiotic to hand themselves the presidency while reducing their margins in Congress, as the fact that Democrats control the House and Senate so narrowly has crippled Biden’s agenda. Giving Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema de facto vetoes over Democratic legislation isn’t an outcome you’d engineer if you were an evil liberal willing and able to hack into voting machines.

The Times noticed today that House Republicans have had few complaints about the results in their own primaries this year despite the doubt they cast on the outcome in 2020.

Already this year, 55 of the lawmakers who objected in 2020 have run in competitive primaries, contests conducted largely under the same rules and regulations as those in 2020. None have raised doubts about vote counts. No conspiracy theories about mail ballots have surfaced. And no one has called for a “forensic audit” or further investigations of the 2022 primary results.

Republicans’ easy acceptance of a voting system they once slammed as broken exposes a fundamental contradiction in their complaints about the 2020 election. Claims about fraud and stolen elections are often situational — used in some races (against Democrats) but not others (against other Republicans), and to challenge some outcomes (losing) but not others (winning).


It’s all bad faith. It always has been.

Speaking of Walker, I’ll leave you with this eyebrow-raising clip from a few days ago about the Uvalde shooting. It’s not clear what he means, and it’s not the first time a soundbite of his has fallen into that category. No one expects (or wants) all senators to be lawyers but they need to be minimally conversant in public policy issues. The fact that Walker ducked the primary debates and that Raphael Warnock’s team is suddenly demanding a series of debates with him suggests both sides are unsure of how well he’d stand up in a high-profile exchange in front of Georgia voters. When Trump ran as a celebrity candidate in 2016, he at least had his pet policies — build the wall, tariffs, and so on. Walker may be running a pure celebrity campaign, hoping to get elected on name recognition alone. It might be enough.

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