President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE on Wednesday endorsed Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the state’s Republican gubernatorial runoff, dealing a blow to his challenger, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
“Brian Kemp is running for Governor of the great state of Georgia,” Trump tweeted.
“The Primary is on Tuesday. Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement.”
Brian Kemp is running for Governor of the great state of Georgia. The Primary is on Tuesday. Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2018
Cagle bested Kemp in the gubernatorial primary in May, winning 38.9 percent of the vote to Kemp’s 25.6 percent, but both candidates fell well short of the majority needed to win the GOP nomination, sending the contest to a runoff.
The two candidates have jockeyed through the primary season over who is more conservative.
Trump’s endorsement has proved important in a GOP primary season that has, in many cases, become about whether candidates are adequately supportive of the president and his agenda.
For example, Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordThe Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party Trump becomes presumptive GOP nominee after sweeping primaries MORE (R-S.C.), who has not shied away from criticizing Trump, lost his primary last month to South Carolina State Rep. Katie Arrington, who received a last-minute endorsement from the president.
Cagle has also faced criticism after a former political rival surreptitiously recorded him admitting that he backed a bill that he described as “bad public policy” because he believed it would deprive an opponent of campaign donations.
In another recording, Cagle can be heard describing Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial primary as a race to see “who could be the craziest.”
Cagle will face off against Kemp in the runoff election on Tuesday.
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