Gov. Brian Kemp endorsed Mike Collins in Georgia’s 10th congressional district runoff on Thursday, a move that once again puts him at odds with former President Donald Trump while helping him settle the score against a former opponent.
Kemp is the latest member of the Republican establishment to back Collins, a trucking company owner and son of the late Congressman Mac Collins. Collins is running against Vernon Jones, a former archenemy of Kemp who received Trump’s backing. In Georgia’s Republican primary last month, Kemp soundly defeated another Trump-backed candidate: former U.S. Senator David Perdue.
Jones, a longtime Democrat who began supporting Trump and switched parties when he left the State House in 2021, dropped a Republican bid against Kemp to clear the land for Perdue at Trump’s behest. In exchange, Trump endorsed Jones in the 10th District, which covers 18 counties east of Atlanta, including Athens.
Collins won 26% of the vote on May 24 and Jones 22%. Because no one won a majority, state law required a runoff.
The winner of Tuesday’s contest will advance to November’s general election against the Democratic nominee, also to be decided in a Tuesday runoff between Tabitha Johnson-Green and Jessica Fore.
The Jones-Collins winner will be the heavy favorite in this district, which lawmakers have drawn to elect a Republican. The seat is open after former US Representative Jody Hice resigned in an unsuccessful Trump-backed bid for Georgia’s secretary of state. Both Jones and Collins have pledged allegiance to Trump, who remains popular among GOP voters.
Kemp, who lives in the 10th District, said he would vote for Collins and called on Republicans “to join me in sending a trusted conservative to Washington.”
His message echoed themes highlighted by Collins, who claimed during his campaign that Jones could not be trusted because of his long history as a Democrat. Collins also cited numerous allegations that were made against Jones when he was the elected CEO of DeKalb County, including that he distributed construction projects and had an expensive security detail. Additionally, a woman claimed that Jones raped her in late 2004. She dropped the charges, but never recanted. Jones said the sexual encounter was consensual.
Other officials who have endorsed Collins include 11 county sheriffs and 17 state lawmakers, though Jones got the nod from the National Rifle Association. Jones said Kemp’s endorsement was further proof that he was not the frontrunner of establishment Republicans.
“It’s something to be proud of – not ashamed of – and it’s exactly why President Trump supported me,” Jones said in a statement. “I’m not running for Congress to join the establishment. I’m running for Congress to destroy it.”
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Post expires at 10:12pm on Monday June 27th, 2022