WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump faces what could be his biggest election defeat since 2020 as he tries to settle old scores against his fellow Republicans in Georgia.
In today’s headline race, which includes primaries in Alabama and runoffs in Texas, Trump-backed David Perdue sputters in his bid to unseat Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, whom the former president is determined to oust to avoid not join his efforts to overturn the results of the state presidential election two years ago.
Pre-Election Day polls indicate Kemp had a large lead over Perdue, a former U.S. senator whose campaign stopped running TV ads about a month ago. The gap suggests that Trump’s support alone may not be enough to prevail against an entrenched incumbent whose only conservative transgression has been refusing to join Trump’s meritless fight in the 2020 election, which the President Joe Biden won in Georgia. NBC News reported last week that the former president washed his hands of Perdue, privately complaining about what he considers a lackluster campaign effort.
Kemp’s advisers are hoping the governor will cross the 50% threshold that would allow him to avoid a runoff election on June 21 against Perdue.
The eventual winner in Georgia, where polls close at 7 p.m. ET, will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in November, a rematch of their heated 2018 battle, in what is expected to be one of the nation’s highest-profile gubernatorial races.
Some Republicans have expressed frustration with Trump’s heavy-handed involvement in the GOP primaries. In a major sign of defiance, former Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Georgia to oppose Kemp on the eve of the contest.
“I know the polls are looking good, really good,” Pence said Monday night. “But don’t give up, don’t slow down. Keep cutting.”
Other Trump-backed candidates in Georgia have also faced difficulties, including those challenging Kemp allies who occupy the offices of secretary of state, attorney general and insurance commissioner. Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who earned a special place near the top of Trump’s enemies list for secretly taping a conversation in which the former president asked him to “find” more votes for him, holds a narrow lead over challenger Rep. Jody Hice, according to a recent poll.
In the GOP Senate primary, Trump frontrunner Herschel Walker, the former University of Georgia and NFL star, is expected to take victory over Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler.
If he does, Walker will face Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in November in what is expected to be one of the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history and a rare case of two black candidates going head-to-head in a crucial contest in the Senate.
Warnock won his seat early last year, but that was in a special election to serve out the remainder of an incumbent senator’s term. He’s on the ballot again this year for a full six-year term.
Democrats also have internal battles on display Tuesday. After the redistricting brings together a congressional seat in suburban Atlanta, a Democratic primary pits Rep. Lucy McBath, who is black, against Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who is white and considered more moderate.
Both lawmakers were elected to Congress during Trump’s presidency, and their race attracted outside interest and money: McBath had millions spent on his behalf by the former mayor’s Everytown for Gun Safety and Protect Our Future of New York’s Michael Bloomberg, the pandemic prevention super PAC funded by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.
In Alabama, where polls close at 8 p.m. ET, Rep. Mo Brooks — who has the distinction of being endorsed and then not endorsed by Trump — appears to be enjoying a last-minute push that put him back in contention for the nomination. in the GOP Senate, which will likely be decided in a runoff in June.
Meanwhile, in Texas, both sides have unfinished business since their March 1 primaries. For Republicans, Tuesday will test whether the Bush family brand still has juice with Trump in the GOP.
Lands Commissioner George P. Bush – son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush – challenges state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is the subject of a federal indictment for alleged security fraud and faced a host of other ethical issues.
Paxton, with Trump’s backing, is favored in the second round after finishing well ahead of Bush in the first round, beating him 43% to 23% but falling short of the 50% needed to avoid a second round. (Bush also vocally supported Trump, unlike other members of his family.)
Democrats, meanwhile, will soon discover the winner of one of their biggest ideological battles of the year, between moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.
It’s a 2020 rematch, but one that got even more heated after an FBI raid on Cuellar’s home and his muddled abortion rights record just as the Supreme Court is set to potentially overturn Roe. against Wade.
Most polling places in Texas close at 8 p.m. ET, but some in the Rockies time zone remain open an hour later.
Charlie Gilles contributed.