(NewsNation) — A primary election in Georgia on Tuesday will be another test of former President Donald Trump’s power over the Republican Party, with his gubernatorial candidate, former Sen. David Perdue, facing off against the incumbent backed by former Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence is in Georgia on Monday to campaign for Gov. Brian Kemp, ahead of the widely watched primary showdown.
Georgia’s gubernatorial race has been a central battleground for Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election being stolen, with the former president targeting Kemp, a onetime ally who rebuffed Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss in the state, The Hill reports.
Election fraud was a central theme of a Georgia GOP gubernatorial primary debate in April, during which, Politico reports, Perdue said in his opening statement that “the election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.”
“We’ve got to get this election integrity under control,” Perdue told NewsNation on Friday. “Our governor is not willing to do it. Stacey Abrams doesn’t want to do it. I’m the only guy talking about it.”
Georgia had seen record early-voting numbers as of Friday, with 565,000 state residents having cast votes, a 189% increase from the same point during the early voting period in the last midterm primaries in 2018.
Kemp held a whopping 32-point lead over Perdue in a Fox News poll released Wednesday.
If Kemp wins, he could face a rematch of his 2018 race against Abrams, the likely nominee on the Democrats’ side.
To do so, Kemp will be tasked with unifying Republicans in the fall, but when speaking with NewsNation correspondent Kellie Meyer on Monday’s edition of “Rush Hour,” he appeared to deflect the blame of the party’s divide.
“I’ve had a great relationship with Mike Pence, I’ve had a great relationship with President Trump, I’ve never said anything bad about them, I don’t plan on doing that. I’m not mad at him, I think he’s just mad at me,” Kemp said.
A bitter aftermath of 2020 is also playing out in the race for Georgia’s secretary of state, where incumbent Brad Raffensperger faces voters for the first time since defying Trump’s pleas to “find” enough votes to declare him the winner, despite President Joe Biden’s victory.
Now, Trump is backing Raffensperger’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.