Their allegiance had its limits. Only Williams supported Trump's plan to open Georgia's coast to offshore drilling. And while other candidates lamented Trump's tweets or bruising rhetoric when asked what they regret about the president, Williams would say he wholeheartedly approves of all things Trump.
In the closing days of the race, Williams sharpened his attempts to paint his opponents as closeted Never Trumpers.
At an Atlanta Press Club debate, he mocked Secretary of State Brian Kemp for saying he supported Trump but was never asked to “formally” endorse him. And he tried to cast Cagle as an anti-Trump stooge, despite social media posts that showed the lieutenant governor praising the president.
But he found it harder to out-conservative his rivals, who were all intensifying their race to the right.
Late last year, he attracted national attention for raffling off a bump stock device after it was used in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. By March, the entire field was in a vicious battle for the NRA’s endorsement – and a seemingly daily test over the lengths they would go to expand Second Amendment rights.
In the end, even Williams’ “deportation bus tour” was one-upped by his opponents.
Days earlier, Kemp launched an ad featuring his pickup truck - "just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take 'em home myself." But unlike Williams, who spent little cash on expensive TV advertising, Kemp put about $1 million behind his last spurt of broadcast and cable spots.
So while Williams' bus tour was beset with demonstrators – and sidelined for a time by engine problems – Kemp rode his truck to a spot in the runoff.