Trump's threats against Georgia's GOP governor may be working

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A new survey reveals Gov. Brian Kemp would lose in a 2022 primary challenge and polls show his approval numbers dropping.

Recent polls showed Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's approval rating slipping, as a survey released over the weekend revealed that he would trail by double digits if faced with a primary challenge.

Kemp's soured relationship with Donald Trump, over Trump's baseless and repeated claims that the state's Nov. 3 election results were fraudulent, appears to be at least in part responsible for the GOP governor's poll numbers.

A Morning Consult poll in early December showed Kemp’s approval rating among state Republicans falling from 86% to 77% since Nov. 3 and dipping from 52% to 46% among voters in Georgia overall.

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An 11Alive News/Survey USA poll released late December showed his favorability rating drop from 78% to 73% from November to December, and his unfavorability rating increase from 3% to 13% in the same period of time.

Similarly, an InsiderAdvantage/FOX 5 Atlanta poll released late last month showed approval for his job performance decline 37% to 31% from a previous poll in November, while the number of voters who disapproved of his performance increased from 44% to 47%.

Additionally, a Trafalgar Group poll released Saturday found that 46.2% of Republican voters would vote for former Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) compared with 24.5% for Kemp in a hypothetical 2022 primary challenge.

Kemp has faced a barrage of attacks from Trump after refusing to overturn his presidential election loss in the Peach State. Citing legal concerns, Kemp has declined Trump's insistence for a special legislative session to assign Republican electors to vote in his favor and a call to audit ballot signatures, the Washington Post noted.

During an interview with Fox News in late November, Trump even said he regretted endorsing Kemp for Georgia's gubernatorial race previously. "The governor's done nothing, he's done absolutely nothing. ... I'm ashamed that I endorsed him," he said.

A month later, Trump called for Kemp's resignation, tweeting, "@BrianKempGA should resign from office. He is an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG!"

Collins, for his part, is a staunch loyalist, and has been actively supporting Trump's push of unfounded voter fraud claims in Georgia, earning his recognition.

At a Dec. 5 rally in Valdosta, Georgia, Trump said, "Where’s Doug? Thank you, Doug. What a job he does. You want to run for governor in two years? Yeah. Good-looking governor."

Other Georgia Republicans appear to be similarly upset that Kemp is not willing to break the law for Trump's reelection.

Kay Godwin, the GOP chair in Pierce County, Georgia, told the Daily Beast that she expected Kemp to "be primaried."

"Just hoping and praying we get the right one this time," Godwin said.

Founder of the Atlanta Tea Party Debbie Dooley told the outlet that Kemp's handling of the 2020 election makes him vulnerable in the 2022 primaries, adding that voters "don't think he's sufficiently standing behind President Trump."

Scott Jay, chair of Newton County's GOP in Georgia, told the Daily Beast that he would prefer Kemp to have a 2022 primary challenge, but refrained from naming anyone specifically.

Kemp, meanwhile, has attempted to withstand Trump's attacks, defending his Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump has urged to overturn the election results, and issuing a statement in November saying, "Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections."

"The Secretary of State (Brad Raffensperger), who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order," the statement from Kemp's office read. "As the Governor has said repeatedly, he will continue to follow the law and encourage the Secretary of State to take reasonable steps — including a sample audit of signatures — to restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised."

In recent days, Trump has further escalated his attempts to challenge Georgia's election results.

Audio obtained by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal over the weekend revealed that Trump had pressured Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes" for him to win reelection, despite his overwhelming loss in November.

"The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry,” said Trump in the hour-long call with Raffensper. "And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”

Raffensperger decidedly refused to do any re-tabulation of votes, noting that voter "data" Trump's campaign had requested to look into the election was considered private and not for distribution.

Saturday's call came after 18 other attempts by the White House to reach the Georgia secretary of state over the past two months, according to the New York Times.

Speaking with Fox News on Sunday, Kemp called the development a "distraction."

"I haven’t listened to the tape. I would just say all those things to me right now are a distraction," he said, adding several times that he’s staying focused on the Senate runoffs on Tuesday that would determine party control of the chamber.

He then reinforced his state’s November election results, saying that "horse has left the barn here in Georgia as far as I’m concerned."

"Our election's been certified. The electors have voted," he said.

He added that "the fight now, as you know, will be Wednesday in Congress" referring to the Electoral College vote certification, which a significant chunk of the GOP Senate has said they will oppose, and which would formalize Joe Biden's victory.

Kemp repeated that sentiment on Monday, suggesting once more on Fox News that Trump's call with Raffensperger was a distraction.

"People don't need to pay attention to it," he said.

This article has been updated to include additional comments from Kemp.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.