President Donald Trump has taken a side in the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary headed into a runoff next Tuesday, opting to back Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“Brian Kemp is running for Governor of the great state of Georgia. The Primary is on Tuesday. Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s endorsement on Wednesday could help tip his supporters down South for Kemp against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the closely fought race to face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams this November.
The eventual winner will replace outgoing GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, who has backed Cagle, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Both candidates responded to Trump’s endorsement on Wednesday by offering their support for the President. Cagle said he had “no hard feelings” and implied he was a more loyal Trump backer in 2016, while Kemp said as governor he would “unapologetically stand” with Trump.
Georgia’s gubernatorial primary has grabbed some attention outside of the state, with Abrams receiving major Democratic firepower ahead of her primary contest and several GOP candidates grabbing headlines for their provocative stances on guns and undocumented immigrants.
Kemp engendered controversy when he released an ad where he pointed a gun at a young man, who he said was interested in one of his daughters, and continued holding the gun as the pair went through his platform. In another ad where he touted himself as a “politically incorrect conservative,” Kemp said he had a “big truck” in case he needed “to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.”
Cagle was one of several vocal Georgia Republicans who lashed out against Delta after the airline ended a contract with the National Rifle Association for discounted rates.
In a recording of a private conversation released recently by the Kemp campaign, Cagle can be heard telling another Republican that “this primary felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck and who could be the craziest.”