Where Things Stand: Taking The Bait

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ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp attends the Election Night event at the Classic Center on November 6, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Ab... ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp attends the Election Night event at the Classic Center on November 6, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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There’s an argument to be made that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) et al. knew what they were getting themselves into; the wrath from Trump their little musketeers-ing might evoke.

Former President Donald Trump has responded with fury to news that two prominent Republican governors and one household name ex-governor have banded together to support incumbent Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial primaries later this month. Trump branded the four-some — Kemp, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) — a pile of “RINOs” and warned Georgia voters that supporting Kemp meant there’d be lots more Big Lying to come … as if Trump hasn’t been (not so) privately plotting to cry election fraud each and every time he doesn’t get his way from now until the end of time.

“Today, the worst ‘election integrity’ Governor in the country, Brian Kemp, loaded the great state of Georgia up with RINOs,” Trump said in a statement.

“That’s right, he had them all. Chris Christie, Doug Ducey from Arizona, and Pete Ricketts from Nebraska. That tells you all you need to know about what you are getting in Georgia – just a continuation of bad elections and a real RINO if you vote for Brian Kemp,” he continued.

It’s just Trump’s latest swipe at Kemp — whom he blames, in part, for his 2020 presidential election loss — but it’s seemingly not an uncalculated move on Kemp’s part. The governor is more than aware of Trump’s ire, made official when Trump not only endorsed Kemp’s primary opponent former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) a few months back, but also had to reportedly convince the former senator to throw his hat in the ring in the first place.

And it’s no secret that Georgia Republicans on some level blame Trump for Perdue and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s losses during the runoff in 2021, gifting the Senate majority to Democrats. Trump’s outbursts about a stolen election and his pointed focus on voter fraud in the state of Georgia at the time didn’t do much to boost voter confidence in the electoral system and dampened Republican turnout for the Senate races.

And so Kemp earning the backing of three well-known GOPers — whether they’re “RINOs” or otherwise — was always going to make Trump mad; the guy’s made a political career out of pretending to be an outsider while privately desperate to be accepted by Washington’s mainstream. Kemp might be attempting to capitalize on that conventional wisdom. Knowing he’ll never win Trump over again, he may as well embrace the role and lean in, provoking the mercurial ex-president’s temper to remind voters he can withstand it.

If that’s the case, it seems Trump took the bait.

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