Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's expected knockout victory over GOP challenger David Perdue will hand Donald Trump an embarrassing defeat.
Perdue's Trump-backed campaign was declared dead this week by AJC columnist Bill Torpy, who noted that the former U.S. senator has pretty much disappeared from the campaign trail. During Perdue's single Senate term, he was known more for his subservience to Trump and insider stock deals than any legislative accomplishments.
Kemp, who's built a huge lead by citing tax cuts, pay raises for state workers and popular pork-barell programs, likely will win without heading to a runoff. That will allow Kemp to focus his efforts immediately on Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams in the general election.
More than 700,000 Georgians had participated in the state's early voting by its final hours Friday afternoon, according to media reports.
Perdue could still force Kemp into a runoff with an unexpected surge on election day Tuesday, but the incumbent's lead appears insurmountable. Dismayed by Perdue's lackluster campaign, Trump reportedly has withdrawn his support from the former corporate raider, according to MSNBC.
Kemp's surge apparently received a boost from a large number of Democratic voters switching to the Republican primary ballot.
Many of the Democratic ballot switchers are supporting Kemp to send a message to Trump, although backing Perdue to force a runoff would be more beneficial to Abrams. In a runoff, Kemp would have to devote resources to defeating Perdue rather than immediately concentrating on Abrams.
Trump despises Kemp for rebuffing the former president's spurious campaign to overturn Joe Biden's Georgia victory in the 2020 presidential election.
While a Kemp blowout would mark a serious downfall for Trump, he still dominates Georgia's GOP in other races. GOP lieutenant governor candidate Burt Jones heads a Trump-backed GOP ticket.
Endorsed by Trump, former U.S. Rep. Jody Hice is embroiled in a tight contest with incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who also upset Trump by refusing his entreaties to overturn Biden's win. Raffensperger now supports unsubstantiated GOP claims about election fraud. Those Democratic crossovers might decide the winner.
In Trump's most heavy-handed power move in Georgia, he recruited former University of Georgia running back Herschel Walker to run for the U.S. Senate, despite Walker's lack of qualifications and his living outside of Georgia.
Although Walker has refused to participate in debates with Republican opponents, the former Heisman Trophy winner leads the GOP primary field, and shows strength in the polls against incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who's already running a heavy schedule of TV ads.
After Biden's 2o20 victory in Georgia, Perdue was upset by Democrat Jon Ossoff in a Senate runoff election. Warnock beat incumbent Kelly Loeffler in the runoff. Following Trump's bogus claims that Biden had stolen the Georgia presidential election, many GOP voters didn't turn out for the runoff because they falsely believed it would also be rigged.
The national media have been frequently disparaged for covering politics like horse racing. Keeping score of Trump's wins and losses in primaries across the nation is the latest gambit in this pack journalism ritual.
As in the 2020 election, Georgia again looks like the biggest horse race of them all.