Commentary: Reagan Reed
The man who more than anyone was responsible for delivering Georgia’s two senate seats to the Democrats on an orange platter (and control of the Senate along with them) is redoubling his efforts to ensure the Peach State remains blue.
The wannabe king-maker of Mar-A-Lago announced Monday that he would be backing former U.S. Senator David Perdue’s primary challenge against incumbent Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. By any objective metric, Kemp has a significantly more conservative record on policy than his challenger, making him the obvious choice for policy-minded conservatives. But Trump’s support for Perdue has absolutely nothing to do with policy, rather, it is all about assuaging a sad, insecure man’s hurt ego.
If your goal is truly to keep the governor’s mansion in Republican hands, endorsing a guy who just lost his seat to a Democrat as opposed to the guy who has actually beat Stacey Abrams before is a strange way to do it. As for me, I prefer Republicans who don’t lose statewide elections in Georgia.
People have short memories, but not that long ago Abrams was accusing then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp of engaging in “voter suppression” due to all the election security reforms enacted by his office. Kemp puged 1.4 million inactive names off the voter roles, and introduced the “exact match policy” for voter registration cards and driver’s licenses. Sore loser Abrams would go on to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about the election being stolen from her by Kemp, when the truth is simply that she was a bad candidate. History has a way of repeating itself.
As governor, Kemp signed one of the the very first heartbeat bills in the country, championed several landmark election integrity bills, and prohibited local governments from enacting strict Covid-19 related mandates. His ultra-conservative tenure as governor is almost indistinguishable from that of his southern neighbor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. You would think the MAGA base would love Kemp as much as DeSantis. However, MAGA’s turning against Kemp reveals that they don’t care (and probably don’t actually know much) about policy. The only thing Trump’s most ardent supporters care about is complete and total submission and sycophancy to one man.
Just like the way Trump turned on Mike Pence, the sole reason Trump wants Kemp out is because the governor, despite being a Trump loyalist, simply would not break the law in order to keep the defeated president in office. Trump is also backing a primary challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the sole reason that he wouldn’t “find” 11,780 extra Trump votes. While anyone who has passed even a middle-school level civics class knows there was nothing constitutionally or legally that Pence, Kemp, or Raffensperger could have done to keep Trump in office, apparently if you’re not willing to break the law for Trump, you’re a traitor to MAGA.
The only way to rise in Trump world is to have no actual convictions, principles, or thoughts of your own. You must put loyalty to Trump over loyalty to conservative ideology, and even loyalty to the Constitution.
I will admit that the title of this article referring to Perdue as a RINO is a bit facetious. However, the fact that he has a less conservative record on policy than Kemp is simply not debatable. Perdue in every way is a typical run-of-the-mill establishment Republican. He is exactly who Trump is talking about when he lambastes “The Swamp”.
While in the Senate, Perdue received rather middling and unimpressive scores from all the major conservative organizations. Perdue only scored 76% with Club for Growth, 74% with Heritage Action, and 61% with Freedom Works. Not to mention his suspicious purchasing of certain stocks after classified Senate committee meetings that sure looked like insider trading. When being part of the GOP establishment was the way to get ahead, that’s what Perdue did. Now that sucking up to Trump and being his pawn in a quest for revenge against Kemp is politically advantageous, it’s exactly what Perdue is doing. Notice a theme here?
If you thought Trump was more conservative than Ted Cruz, or that Elise Stafanik was more conservative than Liz Cheney (I’m not the biggest Cheney fan, but Stefanik? Come on.) then you probably also think Perdue is more conservative than Kemp. Sycophancy to Trump is the only metric under which Perdue is an upgrade over Kemp.
I understand the argument for voting for Trump in the general election as the “lesser of two evils”. I understand liking many of the Trump administration’s policies and judicial appointments. However, if you are willing to back Perdue against someone who is much more conservative just because Trump says so, it’s time to admit that you don’t actually care about the policies. You’re all about the cult of personality.
Trump has thrown Georgia to the Democrats already. Instead of swallowing his pride and working to turn out GOP voters in the Senate runoff, explaining to his voters the consequences of a Democratic Senate, Trump sucked up all the oxygen obsessing over election conspiracies. His surrogates traveled the state essentially telling Republican voters to boycott the runoffs in one of the most idiotic acts of political self-sabotage in history. Every dollar of Democrat spending passed by Congress is thanks to Trump suppressing his own party’s voters in the Georgia runoffs.
Despite all indications that 2022 will be a banner year for Republicans, if Georgia stays blue, Trump will likely again be to blame. He has done his best to put Kemp and Republicans in a no-win situation.
If Kemp were to go all-in on Trump sycophancy and indulge all the former president’s weird and bizarre conspiracies and demands, he would alienate the educated suburbanites (and reasonable people in general) needed to win the general election in Georgia. However, if Kemp wins the primary Trump will encourage his hardcore supporters to sit out the election, throwing it to Abrams. Trump is so consumed by revenge that he has even said publicly that he would prefer Abrams to Kemp.
Georgia is a perfect case study of what happens when personality cult trumps principle. If sycophancy and obsequiousness are what matter most to you, then Perdue is your guy. But if you really care about principles and conservative policy accomplishments, Kemp is your only choice.
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