Polls close in Georgia, where Trump backs challengers in crucial GOP primaries

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The polls have closed in Georgia, where former President Donald Trump has firmly inserted himself into a handful of high-profile Republican Party primaries in the crucial battleground state.

The race grabbing the most attention from coast to coast is GOP gubernatorial primary, where conservative Gov. Brian Kemp is being challenged by Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue.

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Four years ago, with the support of the then-president, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire after certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia following two recounts of the vote. Last year, Trump repeatedly urged Perdue to challenge the governor and endorsed him the day after the former senator announced his bid in December.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Gov.  Brian Kemp of Georgia shake hands with supporters after Pence headlined a primary eve rally for Kemp, on May 23, 2022 in Cobb County, Georgia

Former Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia shake hands with supporters after Pence headlined a primary eve rally for Kemp, on May 23, 2022 in Cobb County, Georgia
(Fox News)

Perdue jumped into the race days after Abrams, a rising star in the Democratic Party and a nationally known champion of voter rights, launched her second straight gubernatorial bid. Abrams is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

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Trump traveled to Georgia in late March to headline a rally for Perdue, starred in his campaign commercials, and called into two tele-rallies this month. But even though Trump retains immense sway over the GOP, his full court press hasn’t boosted Perdue in his uphill challenge of Kemp.

Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with former Sen.  David Perdue, who's primary challenging GOP Gov.  Brian Kemp of Georgia, at the former president's rally in Cumming, Ga.  on March 26, 2022

Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with former Sen. David Perdue, who’s primary challenging GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, at the former president’s rally in Cumming, Ga. on March 26, 2022
(David Perdue campaign)

On the eve of the primary, Kemp told Fox News that he’s “the candidate that can beat Stacey Abrams,” refuting repeated arguments from the former president and Perdue that Trump voters won’t back the governor in November’s general election against Abrams.

But Perdue argued in a Fox News interview on Monday that the incumbent governor is “definitely vulnerable.”

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Perdue is far from the only candidate Trump is backing in Georgia.

The most high-profile candidate Trump endorsed is former college and pro-football legend Herschel Walker, who appears poised to easily capture the GOP nomination on his way to battling Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a blockbuster general election showdown that could decide whether Republicans win back the Senate majority.

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker shakes hands with a supporter at a campaign event in Valdosta, Georgia, on May 21, 2022

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker shakes hands with a supporter at a campaign event in Valdosta, Georgia, on May 21, 2022
(Fox News)

And the former president endorsed GOP Rep. Jody Hice, one of three candidates primary challenging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who along with Kemp resisted Trump’s calls to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

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Trump also endorsed candidates in the state lieutenant governor and attorney general races, as well as a handful of congressional primaries. The former president is backing right-wing GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has courted plenty of controversy since her election to the House in 2020. She faces multiple primary challengers as she runs for reelection in the 14th Congressional District in northwest Georgia.