Trump looms large over Tuesday primaries in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and runoff in Texas

Trump looms large over Tuesday primaries in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and runoff in Texas

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ATLANTA – Former President Donald Trump has targeted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for nearly a year and a half.

And on the eve of the Peach State’s primary – with Trump backing Kemp challenger former Sen. David Perdue – the former president took aim at the governor one last time before voters headed to the polls.

KEMP, PERDUE, MAKE FINAL PITCHES IN GEORGIA’S HEATED GOP GUBERNATORIAL SHOWDOWN

“Brian Kemp is truly an embarrassment to the Republican Party because of what’s taken place in your great state, Georgia,” Trump charged during a tele-rally Monday evening on behalf of Perdue. “And David will make a massive upgrade as your governor.”

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)

Georgia, a crucial general election battleground, is one of three states holding primaries on Tuesday, along with Alabama and Arkansas. And voters are also heading to the polls in Texas, where there are primary runoffs for attorney general and Congress. And while Trump is not on the ballot, his presence looms large over many of the high-profile GOP showdowns.

TRUMP AND PENCE HOLD DUELING RALLIES FOR PERDUE AND KEMP ON PRIMARY EVE IN GEORGIA

The marquee matchup that’s grabbed the most national attention is the political fistfight between Kemp and Perdue.

“I’m running like we’re 10 points down,” Kemp told Fox News on Monday. “We’ve been all over this state reminding people do not believe any polls. The only thing that matters is on election day. We’ve got to get out and win and win big.”

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 )

Four years ago, with the support of Trump, 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. Trump traveled to Georgia last autumn to campaign against Kemp. And he repeatedly urged Perdue to primary challenge the governor and endorsed Perdue the day after the former senator announced his bid in December. 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

WHY TRUMP’S FULL COURT PRESS HASN’T HELPED BOOST PERDUE AGAINST KEMP

Trump held a rally with the former senator in Georgia in late March, headlined two tele-rallies, and starred in Perdue’s campaign commercials.  But the former president’s full court press didn’t seem to boost Perdue against Kemp, a conservative governor who’s popular on the right. Regardless, Perdue argued in a Fox News interview that Trump supporters won’t back Kemp in November, adding that “I’m the only candidate that can bring together the Republican Party to beat Stacey Abrams.”

Perdue is far from the only candidate Trump is backing in Georgia. He has made 13 endorsements in the state.

The most high-profile 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.

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And the former president endorsed GOP Rep. Jody Hice, who is 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. 

Trump is also 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.

FILE - Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks as President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington on March 1, 2022. 

FILE – Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks as President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington on March 1, 2022.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool, File)

And in the suburban Atlanta 7th District, Democratic incumbent Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux are facing off against each other in a race that’s grabbed national attention.

Alabama

The GOP primary in neighboring Alabama to succeed longtime GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, who is retiring after spending more than four decades in Congress, has turned into a three-way battle.

The former president last year endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks, a Trump loyalist and ally in the House who spoke at the rally that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But Trump pulled his endorsement in March, as Brooks’ campaign struggled.

Former  President Donald Trump  welcomes candidate for Senate and . Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) to the stage during a rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former  President Donald Trump  welcomes candidate for Senate and . Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) to the stage during a rally at York Family Farms on August 21, 2021 in Cullman, Alabama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

But since getting ditched by the former president, Brooks has seen his fortunes rebound, and heading into Tuesday’s primary was neck and neck with Katie Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff and a former president of the Business Council of Alabama, and self-funder Mike Durant, a business executive and former U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot who saw combat in “Desert Storm” in Iraq and who survived a crash during fighting in Somalia that was spotlighted in the movie “Black Hawk Down.”

The Republican gubernatorial nomination race is also grabbing attention, as popular Gov Kay Ivey faces multiple primary challenges as she tries to avoid a runoff as she runs for a second term steering Alabama.

Arkansas 

The state’s GOP Senate primary has turned negative and expensive by Arkansas standards.

Republican incumbent Sen. John Boozman has Trump’s endorsement, but that hasn’t stopped him from facing multiple primary challengers angry that the senator didn’t back overturning the 2020 election results.

The most vocal of Boozman’s challengers is former NFL star Jake Bequette, who enjoys the support of billionaire Richard Uihlein, who has dished out $1.5 million to fund a super PAC backing Bequette. The primaries in Arkansas, along with Alabama and Georgia, will head to runoffs if no candidate wins a majority of the vote.

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas (Boozman reelection campaign)

Former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has cleared the GOP field as she runs to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Sanders is the clear favorite to win November’s general election for a job her father – 2008 and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee – once held.

Texas 

A confident Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tells Fox News he’s “way ahead” of challenger George P. Bush as the two face off Tuesday in the Republican primary runoff for the Lone Star state’s top law enforcement officer.

Paxton, who’s backed by Trump, is known nationally for trying to legally upend the 2020 presidential election results and for his aggressive actions in taking on President Biden’s administration in court. But he’s saddled with a slew of corruption allegations as he seeks a third four-year term as Texas attorney general.

BUSH DYNASTY ON THE LINE AS GEORGE P. BUSH TRIES TO UPSET TRUMP-BACKED KEN PAXTON

Bush, twice elected to statewide office as Texas land commissioner, is the last elected member of his family’s political dynasty – which over four generations has produced two presidents, a vice president, a senator, two governors and a congressman. 

Texas Land Commissioner and Republican attorney general candidate George P. Bush campaigns in Victoria, Texas on May 18, 2022

Texas Land Commissioner and Republican attorney general candidate George P. Bush campaigns in Victoria, Texas on May 18, 2022 (George P Bush campaign)

Paxton topped Bush by 20 points in the March 1 primary, with former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Rep. Louie Gohmert finishing third and fourth. But the attorney general failed to crack 50%, which forced him into a runoff with the second-place Bush. 

The winner of the GOP runoff will likely face Democrat Rochelle Garza in November’s general election. The progressive former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer from Brownsville is the clear front-runner in the Democratic runoff for Texas attorney general.

No Democrat has won statewide in Texas since 1994.

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There are a number of congressional primaries, but the one grabbing attention from coast to coast is the Democratic showdown in Texas’ 28th Congressional District, which stretches to the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar is facing a second straight primary challenge from progressive firebrand Jessica Cisneros, who enjoys the backing of top figures from the left, including Sen. Bernie Sanders. Cuellar, who narrowly edged Cisneros in the 2020 primary, is facing even more heat with the Supreme Court likely next month to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. Cuellar’s anti-abortion posture has draw fire from many Democrats nationwide.

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