The midterm elections are still a year and a half away – which sure seems like a long time to go – but there was fast and furious spate of 2022 political developments in the past 48 hours.
Here’s a look at what you may have missed on the campaign trail this weekend.
In another sign of former President Trump’s continued clout over Republican activists and base voters, Kemp was booed at the confab, which was held on Jekyll Island. And Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was censured.
The Saturday developments came after Kemp and Raffensperger – who were both Trump supporters – became the target of his wrath for refusing to help the then-president overturn his narrow loss in Georgia last November to now-President Biden.
Both Kemp and Raffensperger – who are running for re-election next year – are facing primary challengers. And the former president’s endorsed one of Raffensperger’s opponents – Trump loyalist Rep. Jody HIce.
Warnock faces challenge from statewide Georgia Republican
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black used his appearance Friday at the state GOP convention to launch his 2022 campaign for the Senate, becoming the most high profile candidate to date to take aim at Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Warnock, who narrowly won election in January to serve the final two years of retired GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term, is seen by Republicans as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection next year, when the GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to recapture the Senate majority. Republicans lost the majority when Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff swept Georgia’s twin Senate runoff elections at the beginning of the year.
Black took aim at Warnock and President Biden, telling delegates that “they’re five months into it and job growth and opportunity are down, inflation, debt and gas prices are up, [and] the Middle East is back at war.”
Two military veterans who are not well-known – Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, have already launched Republican Senate campaigns.
Herschel Walker – the former star professional football player and college gridiron legend in the Peach State – he won a Heisman Trophy and helped steer the University of Georgia to a college football national championship – has been encouraged by Trump to run for the Senate. Walker said in a Fox News interview in April that he was considering a bid, but has made no outward signs of launching a campaign.
GOP Rep. Buddy Carter has indicated he would run if Walker passes on declaring his candidacy. And former Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who Warnock edged in January, is mulling another run.
Former Sen. David Perdue – who narrowly lost to Ossoff – and former Rep. Doug Collins – who came in third to Warnock and Loeffler in November’s election – have both passed on 2022 bids.
Trump endorses Budd in North Carolina
As he headlined the North Carolina GOP’s annual convention on Saturday, Trump weighed in on that state’s 2022 Republican Senate nomination race.
The former president endorsed conservative Rep Ted Budd, who represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District and is one of the three major GOP candidates hoping to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.
“A lot of you don’t know him that well, but you’re gonna know him probably within a few minutes,” Trump said as he called Budd to the stage
Former President Donald Trump, right, announces his endorsement of N.C. Rep. Ted Budd, left, for the 2022 North Carolina U.S. Senate seat as he speaks at the North Carolina Republican Convention Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)
“I am giving him my complete and total endorsement,” Trump said. “He will fight like hell. He will fight like nobody fights.”
Trump backed Budd moments after his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, came to the former president’s side at the podium and announced that she would pass on making a Senate run in her native state. Lara Trump, who currently lives in New York, had been mulling a Senate bid for months.
One of Budd’s rivals for the nomination, former Rep. Mark Walker, didn’t land Trump’s endorsement, but he did win the state GOP convention’s Senate straw poll, topping Budd and the other major candidate in the race, former Gov. Pat McCrory.
North Carolina, long considered a reliably Republican state, has become a hotly contested battleground state. Trump narrowly edged Biden last November, while Republican Sen. Thom Tillis defeated Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham by less than one percentage point, after Cunningham was politically wounded after news broke that he had engaged in an extra-marital affair.
West steps down as Texas GOP chair ahead of possible 2022 run
“It has been my distinct honor to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. I pray Godspeed for this governing body,” West said Friday in what he called his “irrevocable resignation.”
West – a 60-year-old Atlanta native who represented Florida’s 22nd Congressional District from 2011 to 2013 before moving to Texas. He was elected state party chair last year, in part because of his strong backing of then-President Trump.
But West brief tenure as GOP chair was marked by controversy, as he criticized two-term Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott over the state’s coronavirus restrictions. And last autumn he sued the governor for extending early voting hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
West has teased a potential primary challenge against Abbott, who has Trump’s backing as he runs for re-election next. And on Friday he told reporters he was also considering potentially running for Congress again, or possibly Texas land commissioner now that incumbent George P. Bush has launched a campaign for attorney general.