- Mike Pence is stumping for Gov. Brian Kemp on the eve of Georgia's primary election.
- Trump's competing tele-rally with David Perdue is a last-ditch attempt to engage MAGA world.
- The dueling events highlight the opposing camps trying to assert control over the modern GOP.
ATLANTA, Georgia — Mike Pence's planned appearance Monday at a primary eve rally for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will cap a coordinated effort by Republican officials trying to wrest back control of the party from the twice-impeached former president they once served.
Campaigning against Trump-backed gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue on his home turf marks the former vice president's boldest break yet with his old boss Donald Trump.
Pence joins a parade of GOP leaders — including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie — who have visited Georgia in recent days to help Kemp overcome the revenge campaign Trump launched against him for certifying Joe Biden's win in 2020.
"Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America," Pence said when he announced on May 13 the plan to campaign for Kemp. "Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia. I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!"
Recent polls show that Perdue who Trump talked into challenging Kemp, is trailing Kemp by 30 points ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary.
Pence's planned appearance will almost certainly amplify attacks on him by Trump and his team as they have done since the then-vice president presided over the counting of the 2020 electoral college votes just hours after the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack where the violent pro-Trump mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence!"
Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich characterized Pence as a political has-been and ingrate whose "political career was salvaged" by joining Trump's 2016 ticket. "Now, desperate to chase his lost relevance, Pence is parachuting into races, hoping someone is paying attention," The New York Times reported of Trumpworld's latest jab at Pence.
The Perdue camp has also scheduled a tele-rally with Trump on Monday night to counterprogram Kemp's in-person event in Kennesaw, Georgia, bucking reports that the former president had abandoned his preferred candidate for the Georgia gubernatorial race.
—David Perdue (@DavidPerdueGA) May 21, 2022
Perdue has surrounded himself with other Trump-endorsed candidates during the closing weekend of this primary battle. He stumped with 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — who is now running for the House — at an event in Savannah, Georgia. He also attended a biker happy hour with fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in Plainville, Georgia.
The pro-Kemp pop-ins have been months in the making, Ducey and others told The Washington Post reporters of their plans to nullify Trump's "personal vendetta tour."
Kemp has embraced the support of Pence even as he looks favored to win the primary and once again go against Democrat Stacey Abrams in November.
"We could not be more grateful for his friendship to our family and state, and we look forward to welcoming him back to the campaign trail in Georgia!" Kemp said early this month in the announcement of the rally with Pence.