(NewsNation) — Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is facing former U.S. Sen. David Perdue for Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary in a race that has seen record early -voting — and pits Donald Trump and Mike Pence against each other.
Georgia saw an increase of 168% in early voting since the 2018 midterm election. More than 857,000 ballots were cast during in-person early voting, though mail-in ballots dropped after the state’s Republican-controlled legislature made both mail-in and ballot drop boxes a less attractive option.
There are three other candidates in the Republican primary, so it’s possible that neither Kemp nor Perdue will win a majority, leading to a June 21 runoff election. Either way, whoever wins will face Stacey Abrams, who is running unopposed as the Democratic nominee. Abrams narrowly lost the governorship to Kemp in 2018.
Perdue was endorsed by Trump after Kemp would not go along with Trump’s effort to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia to current President Joe Biden. Perdue, on the other hand, has embraced Trump’s statements that the election was “rigged and stolen.”
Kemp, meanwhile, found support in Pence, with the former vice president coming to the governor’s election eve rally, touting his accomplishments and saying he’s one of the most successful governors in the country. Pence’s endorsement is the first time he has split from Trump on these kinds of endorsements.
Trump’s support for Perdue was not enough to get him to rally in-person, although he did join the candidate virtually Monday night to say he’s the only candidate who can beat Abrams.
Some are speculating this could be setting up a 2024 presidential run.
“The Republican Party is split into a few different segments. But the two main ones are basically the conservatives like Mike Pence, the traditional conservatives. And on the other side, you have the more nationalistic side, the MAGA side,” Chris Stirewalt, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said on “Morning in America,” referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
“The idea that Mike Pence, who was the most loyal, almost obsequious, vice president to Donald Trump would now be potentially emerging as one of the leaders of that other faction sets up the possibility of a 2024 run, the likes of which we have never seen, I don’t think,in American political history,” Stirewalt added.
Voters in Georgia NewsNation talked to, however, said they’re blocking out these endorsements and focusing on what they want for their state.
Trump’s influence will be tested in another Georgia race, the one for the GOP Senate nomination. Despite his history of domestic violence, Trump backed former NFL star Herschel Walker, who is now poised to win. Walker has said he’s gotten therapy since his previous alleged violence actions against his ex-wife, according to the Independent.
These and other controversies, however, could prove a challenge should Walker win the primary and have to face incumbent Democratic candidate Sen. Raphael Warnock this November.
Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama are also having elections on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.