Former President George W. Bush is planning a rare return to partisan politics to attend a fundraiser for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp this month. Bush has been less active in campaigning for candidates since leaving office than Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been, but he has decided to appear as a “special guest” at the upcoming fundraiser in his native Texas, which implies strong support for Kemp in his contentious primary battle.
Bush to fundraise for Georgia’s Kemp
Kemp campaigned as a strong conservative and a Trump ally in 2018, earning the support of Trump himself and defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams.
In 2020 there was a spectacular falling-out stemming from Kemp’s refusal to cooperate with Trump’s attempts to challenge the controversial election results in his state.
Trump subsequently became determined to unseat the governor in this year’s primary and he encouraged former Senator David Perdue to be his anti-Kemp candidate.
Unfortunately for Trump, Perdue has failed to gain much momentum in the race, which will see the nominee once again face Stacey Abrams in the general election.
Bush rarely campaigns for candidates, but in this case he can be confident that he is backing the winner; Kemp has consistently polled far ahead of Perdue and will likely win a comfortable primary victory on May 24.
Bush has contributed money to some anti-Trump Republicans in the past, but he has generally refrained from publicly showing off his opposition and he rarely mentions Trump by name.
Perdue fails to gain ground before primary
Opposition to Trump is, however, likely the main reason for Bush to make an appearance at a fundraiser for Kemp, who is not otherwise his style of Republican.
Other than the election controversy, Kemp has largely been aligned with the Trump wing of the party and he has otherwise taken aggressive stances on illegal immigration and voter fraud.
Trump’s vendetta against Kemp may backfire in Georgia, as support for the two men largely overlaps and the former president has apparently failed to convince a majority of Republicans that they must choose between him or Kemp.
He has even gone so far as to suggest at times that he would prefer to see Stacey Abrams elected rather than see Kemp win reelection. Georgia Republicans generally do not share that opinion.
The 2020 election controversy was only the top issue for five percent of Georgia voters in a recent poll. Most other voters do not strongly feel that a change is needed while the threat of Abrams still looms.
While other races are proving his continued influence within the party, the Georgia gubernatorial race will almost certainly be a blow to Trump, and Bush is apparently happy to make himself a noticeable part of that.