President Donald Trump has endorsed Brian Kemp in the Republican gubernatorial runoff.
Trump announced his endorsement on Twitter at 2:25 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, bucking the political establishment in Georgia that had lined up for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who has been the state’s No. 2 leader for the past dozen years.
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 had just this week been endorsed by Gov. Nathan Deal, and on Saturday he appeared with Oliver North, incoming president of the National Rifle Association.
Trump’s endorsement was heavily sought after in the Republican runoff, and both candidates have adopted the president’s positions and even the style of his 2016 presidential campaign. The endorsement is sure to loom large among Republican voters, the vast majority of whom approve of Trump’s performance in office.
"I am incredibly grateful to have President Trump's full and total endorsement. Like the president, I am running as a politically incorrect conservative with a plan to put people over politics,” Kemp said in a Wednesday statement. “As governor, I will unapologetically stand with President Trump to secure our border, deport criminal aliens, crush gangs and ensure a bright and promising future for our families."
The Cagle campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Times.
The Associated Press reported Cagle tweeted his response to the endorsement Wednesday evening: “No hard feelings, @realDonaldTrump. I look forward to receiving your endorsement against the Democrats in November as I did for you (wish @BrianKempGA could say he did the same).”
Kemp has been endorsed by all of the other unsuccessful candidates in the Republican primary: Hunter Hill, Clay Tippins and Michael Williams.
More than 3,000 people have already voted early in the runoff election in Hall County, according to the county elections office. The runoff is set for Tuesday, July 24.