Burt Jones embraces Georgia GOP base with Kemp, Carr convention boycott

COLUMBUS – Boycotts from Gov. Brian Kemp and his allies meant that Lt. Gov. Burt Jones is the highest-ranking Republican official to attend the GOP convention. And Jones seemed to relish his role Saturday as he spoke to a crowded hall of delegates.

“I can assure you this,” he said amid applause from supporters, “y’all are the reason I got elected lieutenant governor.”

Jones, a former state senator, won an open race for Georgia’s No. 2 job last year with Donald Trump’s endorsement. He was one of the only state GOP officials who benefited from the ex-president’s support, as many other Trump-backed candidates were demolished in primaries.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones speaks during the Senate session at the Georgia State Capitol on Jan. 30, 2023. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

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Since taking office, he’s allied with Kemp on key issues, such as public safety initiatives and anti-gang crackdowns. But he also broke with the governor and his allies on other issues, including a failed push to split Atlanta into two municipalities and another to deregulate hospitals.

As he prepares for a potential run for governor in 2026, Jones seems intent on building support among the grassroots conservatives who will help decide that primary.

Other potential contenders include former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is also working the crowd, and Attorney General Chris Carr, who joined Kemp in skipping the event.

Jones rejected the narrative that Republican delegates were divided over Trump.

“I don’t think we’re divided at all. Now more than ever, we’re energized. And we’re energized because of what’s happening in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

“And if you want to see how energized we are, look at the 2022 election, where we won every constitutional statewide race in the state of Georgia,” Jones said. “And that’s because of you in this room in the state of Georgia.”