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Nate Jackson / May 25, 2022

Candidates Matter

Georgia’s primaries yesterday illustrated a fundamental truth irrespective of Trump’s endorsement.

The primary thing that we can learn from yesterday’s primaries is that candidates matter. While most of the Leftmedia is talking about whether Donald Trump won or lost with his endorsements, the reality is that individual candidates often make all the difference.

That isn’t to say that the best candidates always win. It’s painfully obvious that the worst candidate, however deceitful and even demented, can sometimes win 81 million* votes and the White House. But candidates either resonate with voters or they don’t. They either make the case or fail to. We’ll point to a few Georgia races.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp easily held off a Republican primary challenge from former Senate David Perdue, more than tripling the latter’s share of the vote and winning by 52 points. In 2020, Perdue was defeated by the unimpressive Jon Ossoff after Trump depressed voter turnout in the runoff with his over-the-top complaints about his own loss in Georgia. Trump then recruited Perdue to challenge Kemp, who was one of the unfortunate targets of Trump’s wrath and blame.

But as it turns out, Kemp is a good governor, Mike Pence endorsed him, and primary voters overwhelmingly rewarded him with a shot at a second term. He’ll face off once again against another politician who claims to have been cheated out of winning Georgia — Democrat Stacey Abrams. She lost to Kemp in 2018 and as recently as October 2021 insisted, “Just because you win, doesn’t mean you won.” Trump once said Abrams “might be better” than Kemp, though Perdue said after losing that Kemp is “a much better choice than Stacey Abrams.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was in the same boat as Kemp. In fact, he was the recipient of that infamous Trump phone call in which the president said: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Raffensperger rejected Trump’s claims and yesterday handily defeated a Trump-recruited challenger in Representative Jody Hice, whose sole purpose for running was revenge for Trump’s 2020 loss.

But elsewhere in Georgia, the very Trumpian Marjorie Taylor Greene had no trouble winning 70% against a crowded field of challengers for the state’s 14th District House seat. That reveals two things: Greene resonates with the people in northwest Georgia, and northwest Georgia is not suburban Atlanta.

Herschel Walker, the former Heisman-winning University of Georgia running back, broke tackles in a crowded field to score the nomination to challenge Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock. Walker’s fame combined with his everyman appeal helped him cruise ahead of five others with 68% of the vote. It’s unlikely that Trump’s backing mattered.

Candidates matter. Trump’s endorsement sometimes did and sometimes didn’t. Georgia-based commentator Erick Erickson argued, “Georgia Republicans do like Trump, but they’re tired of his bulls**t and want to move on.” That’s true and it isn’t. A lot of voters in Georgia are still incensed about what happened in the state in 2020. That doesn’t mean all of them are in every part of the state, or that Trump’s vendetta against other Republicans always paid off.

2022 should be a banner year for Republicans. Democrats have wrecked the country in short order in just about every measurable way — inflation and gas prices, hateful division, and so on down a long list. But Republicans will prevail only if they’re able to rally around a common cause, and that common cause does not appear to be relitigating the 2020 election.

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