The move underscores the importance — and urgency — of Georgia in Trump’s eyes. Kemp has a substantial lead in the polls over Perdue and has comfortably outstripped his rival in fundraising, despite more than a year of attacks from the former president. Trump recruited Perdue in the primary and pushed another candidate who threatened to cut off Perdue’s vote. The former president recently held a rally for Perdue, recorded a TV commercial for him and held a fundraiser to benefit his campaign.
It’s unclear where else the Save America PAC will make major investments, though Trump advisers say another top priority is unseating the representative from Wyoming. Liz Cheney, a very high-profile nemesis of Trump. And Trump’s advisers declined to specify exactly how much they planned to spend before Georgia’s primary. The $500,000 infusion came as Kemp, Perdue and their allies have already spent millions on television this year.
“President Trump is committed to supporting his endorsed nominees across the country, but we will not telegraph our efforts to the media,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement.
Since receiving the Save America PAC donation on March 25, anti-Kemp super PAC Get Georgia Right began airing a TV ad saying Kemp “dismissed concerns about voter fraud in the 2020 election.” . The ad claimed that “if Kemp can’t beat voter fraud, he won’t beat [Democratic candidate] Stacey Abrams” in the November general election.
The ad is airing in more conservative parts of the state, with the aim of driving Trump supporters to the polls for Perdue. The super PAC’s senior adviser is Gregg Phillips, a conservative activist whose name Trump was verified in a 2017 tweet after Phillips baselessly claimed that 3 million votes were cast fraudulently in the 2016 election.
“President Trump has demonstrated a keen interest in bringing the truth to light about what happened in Georgia. He also said the best way to address this issue is to elect people who recognize it and are committed to improving the integrity of elections,” said Jessica Freese, spokesperson for Get Georgia Right.
The Kemp-Perdue primary is causing widespread concern in Trump’s political orbit. Trump himself has privately expressed discomfort with Perdue’s position in the race, and he hasn’t made a commitment to travel to the state to hold another rally, according to two people familiar with the deliberations. internal. Trump advisers say they are ready to take other steps to strengthen Perdue’s position – including fundraising for a small dollar, hosting a TV rally and making phone calls recorded by Trump – before determining whether to hold another in-person campaign. style an event.
Kemp capitalized on his tenure to establish a major financial advantage over Perdue. According to AdImpact, which tracks campaign advertising, through Tuesday, Kemp and allied groups had spent or booked $11.4 million on TV ads, compared to just $2.7 million for pro-Perdue Forces — a difference of more than 4 to 1. Kemp enjoyed the support of the Deep-Pocketed Republican Governors Association, which ran advertisements touting his record as governor. The organization is supposed to run ads for the duration of the contest.
Trump seemed to recognize the challenge of defeating Kemp, saying during a recent appearance on a conservative radio show that “it’s always hard to beat a sitting governor.”
“It’s tough. It’s very hard to beat, because they have a lot of money behind them. You know, everyone gives them money,” Trump added. “But we’ll see what happens. .”
The Trump team hopes to prevent Kemp from reaching 50% of the vote in the primary, which would force him to a runoff on June 21. Three other lesser-known Republicans will also be on the ballot on May 24, which could split the vote.
Trump has a lot more riding on Georgia beyond the governor’s race. He endorsed a slate of primary candidates, including GOP Rep. jody hicewho is seeking to unseat Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another target of Trump’s derision over Raffensperger’s refusal to address the former president’s complaints about the 2020 election.
Save America will likely need to invest a substantial sum to make an impact in the gubernatorial race, given the large sums already spent. But even if Trump covers the airwaves for Perdue, there’s no guarantee it’ll be enough to defeat the governor, some Republicans say.
“Any Republican running in a competitive primary would want Trump’s support,” said Chip Lake, a veteran Republican strategist based in Georgia. “That being said, you always have to bring something else to the table that resonates with voters, and that’s where David struggles.”