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Grassroots fury at Kemp bubbles up in county GOP meetings around Georgia


Even a fraction of Republicans who remain skeptical of Kemp could pose problems to Kemp in November 2022, much like a sharp turnout drop in conservative rural areas hampered U.S. Senate incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January runoff defeats to Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

“Many of the Trump supporters that did not return and vote in the January runoff will not return to vote for Kemp in 2022,” said Brian Pritchard, a North Georgia GOP activist and commentator. “The only way to get a Trump supporter to vote for Kemp is to get Trump to endorse Kemp. And we don’t see that happening.”

While efforts to punish Kemp went nowhere in many counties and were blocked by the governor’s allies in others, delegates in a range of counties voted to rebuke him. They include censure votes in Appling, Chattooga, DeKalb, Jasper, Lowndes, Lumpkin, Pierce and Pickens counties. They join two others – Murray and Whitfield – that punished him last week.

110320 Atlanta: Kirsten Davies, right, and Marci McCarthy react while watching returns for Georgia coming in at the Georgia Republican Party Election Night Celebration in the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

110320 Atlanta: Kirsten Davies, right, and Marci McCarthy react while watching returns for Georgia coming in at the Georgia Republican Party Election Night Celebration in the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020 in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

“When people censure politicians, they are holding them accountable in a public forum,” said newly elected DeKalb GOP chair Marci McCarthy, who described the vote as a part of mounting backlash against the establishment.

“I encourage all those that are not pleased with their elected representatives to vote in the Republican primary, vet your candidates and get involved.”

Still, Kemp avoided what could have been sharper fallout. In Fannin County, delegates voted overwhelmingly to censure the governor though it wasn’t formally approved because there was no longer a quorum.

Hall County activists dinged Duncan and Raffensperger – who are vilified by many in the base for more forcefully opposing Trump’s lies about a “rigged” election – but sidestepped a rebuke of Kemp.

Ellis Davis, a Camden County activist, said local Republicans rallied around Kemp and attacked Jones as someone who is not a “legitimate” candidate for the GOP nod.

“Certain individuals that have ulterior motives introduced anti-Kemp resolutions and they were promptly voted down,” said Davis. “His leadership and care is evident in all that he does and the fact that all anti-Kemp resolutions were voted down is proof of that.”

State Sen. Jason Anavitarte. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

State Sen. Jason Anavitarte. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

And state Sen. Jason Anavitarte reported a sense of bonhomie in Paulding County around GOP efforts to overhaul the voting system and another resolution that applauded Kemp’s aggressive approach to reopening the economy during the pandemic.

“Everyone was energized and participated in the party process,” said Anavitarte, elected in 2020. “Overall, everyone was unified to win in 2022.”

Kemp’s campaign said it was “grateful” for the support from the county GOP organizations that didn’t punish him.

“We look forward to hitting the campaign trail in the coming months to highlight his successful record of economic growth, keeping Georgia open, standing up for election integrity and putting hardworking Georgians first,” said Kemp campaign spokesman Tate Mitchell.

Several grassroots activists reported sky-high turnout for local meetings, outpacing the soaring involvement during the rise of the tea party movement in the late 2000s. Georgia GOP chair David Shafer said the “record high levels” were a sign of enthusiasm for conservative ideals and backlash to the “woke cancel culture mob.”

Many of the meetings also featured endorsements of false charges of widespread voting fraud that Trump and his allies pushed. State Rep. Jesse Petrea was interrupted in Chatham County’s GOP meeting when he asked rhetorically…



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