Georgia GOP convention: Mike Pence out, Kari Lake in

The latest bout in the political feud between Donald Trump and Mike Pence is on hold. Both were set to speak at next week’s Georgia GOP convention, but the former vice president is a late scratch.

In a Wednesday email to delegates, state party Chair David Shafer said Pence canceled “because of a televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans.”

Instead, former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will be the keynote speaker at the June 9 start of the two-day event.

Lake, who has refused to concede her 2022 defeat, is a favorite of Trump loyalists, and her marquee speech is a sign the convention is wading deeper into “MAGA” waters.

The back-to-back appearances by Pence and Trump had been highly anticipated by national Republicans amid a broader tug of war over the GOP’s direction ahead of the 2024 race.

Pence famously broke with the former president last year by endorsing Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection bid, even as Trump pushed to oust the incumbent and replace him on the GOP ballot with ex-U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

Now Pence is weighing a White House bid of his own by presenting himself as the most viable alternative to Trump. Should he run, he’d join an already crowded field that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

Former President Donald Trump, left, and his onetime vice president, Mike Pence, were both set to speak at next week's Georgia GOP convention. But Pence canceled, state party Chair David Shafer announced Wednesday, “because of a televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans.” (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

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Even without Pence on the schedule, the state GOP convention has attracted other White House hopefuls beyond Trump. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and business executive Vivek Ramaswamy are also scheduled to deliver remarks.

Others set to speak include U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Kemp and other state GOP leaders, meanwhile, have quickly distanced themselves from the state party and its tilt toward a brand of hard-line, pro-Trump conservative politics. On Wednesday, Kemp said he was using his political machine to safeguard GOP legislative districts — a role the state party once routinely played.

Lake embodies the GOP’s push toward the right. A former news anchor, she has for months contested her November defeat even after her claims of misconduct were rejected in court. In last year’s midterm, she endorsed Perdue and other Trump-backed insurgents.

Now she’s weighing a Republican campaign next year for the U.S. Senate, one of a handful of competitive seats on the 2024 map. She’s also viewed as a potential running mate for Trump, whose rhetoric she often emulates.