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FIRST ON FOX: Former Gov. Chris Christie will campaign with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp next week as the conservative governor works to fend off a primary challenge from Trump-backed former GOP Sen. David Perdue.
Christie, a former two-term governor of New Jersey and a former chair of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) who ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, will team up with Kemp at a bus tour stop in Canton and at a get out the vote rally in Alpharetta during his trip to Georgia next Tuesday, May 17, Fox News has learned.
Four years ago, with the support of then-President Donald Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after the governor certified President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election following multiple recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has now returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia formally launches his 2022 r-election campaign at a kick-off event in Perry, Georgia, on July 10, 2021 (Brian Kemp 2022 re-election campaign)
Trump for months urged to challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid. Perdue declared his candidacy a few days after Abrams, an election reform champion and rising star in the Democratic Party, launched her second straight bid for governor.
But regardless of Trump’s endorsement, with less than two weeks to go until Georgia’s primary, Kemp enjoys large leads over Perdue in two key campaign metrics — public opinion polling and fundraising.
Earlier this week the Kemp campaign announced that Christie as well as RGA co-chairs Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska would be heading to Georgia to campaign with Kemp.
Soon after that news broke, Trump took aim, claiming in a statement that “Today, the worst ‘election integrity’ Governor in the country, Brian Kemp, loaded the great state of Georgia up with RINOs.”
“That’s right, he had them all. Chris Christie, Doug Ducey from Arizona, and Pete Ricketts from Nebraska. That tells you all you need to know about what you are getting in Georgia — just a continuation of bad elections and a real RINO if you vote for Brian Kemp,” the former president argued.
Christie, a one-time close Trump friend and adviser who’s become a vocal GOP critic of the former president, responded on Twitter, writing “Insightful commentary about three Republican Governors who were overwhelmingly re-elected by their people from a former President who lost to Joe Biden. Maybe the ‘R’ in RINO really stands for re-elected.”
“Proud to stand with @DougDucey @GovRicketts supporting @BrianKempGA,” Christie added.
The 2022 intra-party squabble could be an appetizer for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination race.
FILE – President Trump greets New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after speaking about administration plans to combat the nation’s opioid crisis in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Oct. 26, 2017 REUTERS/Carlos Barria (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
Trump has repeated teased making a White House run, while Christie has also openly discussed making a second bid for president.
Pundits also see Ricketts, the term limited Nebraska governor who’s in his final year in office, as a potential White House contender in 2024. Earlier this week the candidate Ricketts was backing in the GOP gubernatorial primary to succeed him, defeated the contender Trump had endorsed and heavily supported.