The Jolt: Donald Trump ’stunned’ by Brad Raffensperger’s primary win

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We’ve grown accustomed to hearing Donald Trump fume after things don’t go his way. So that’s why we’ve been surprised by the relative restraint he’s shown in the aftermath of his stinging defeats in Georgia’s primary.

The former president hasn’t issued a screaming statement about Gov. Brian Kemp’s victory or a condemnation of former U.S. Sen. David Perdue and other Trump-backed candidates who went down in flames.

The closest he’s come is a social media post that documented six unspecified losses for his endorsed candidates – “some of which were not possible to win.”

So we checked in with two senior Republicans close to Trump on his arms-length approach to Tuesday’s primary results. Here’s what we learned.

  • Trump was most stunned by the defeat of U.S. Rep. Jody Hice to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and took note that Democratic crossover votes helped the incumbent stave off the challenge.
  • The former president was fully aware of polling that showed Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr far ahead of their Trump-backed opponents.
  • He was disappointed when Perdue’s campaign collapsed, and expected the former senator to have spent more of his own fortune on the campaign. Perdue pledged $500,000 of his own cash into his bid, though it’s unclear if he spent all of that sum.
  • He liked John Gordon, the failed attorney general candidate. He hardly knew Patrick Witt, who was demolished by Insurance Commissioner John King, and didn’t mind his defeat.
  • Trump is “very happy” with Senate nominee Herschel Walker and Burt Jones, his pick for lieutenant governor – two of the only Georgia Republicans who had a strong prior relationship with the ex-president.


The Wall Street Journal editorial board had Donald Trump and Brian Kemp in its mind, too, with an editorial, “Will Trump help elect Stacey Abrams?”

“Mr. Trump would be wiser to forgive (Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger) and focus on the future. If he doesn’t, Republicans can draw the appropriate conclusion as they consider their nominee for 2024,” they conclude.


This morning’s Politically Georgia podcast looks back at the incredible week that was in Georgia politics, as well as the campaigns’ pivots to the general election, including Stacey Abrams’ new soft-focus ad, Herschel Walker’s fumble on gun policy, and our weekly installment of who’s up and who’s down.

Listen here now or on at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


The horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., unfortunately has a Georgia connection. The AR-15 used by the 18-year-old shooter was manufactured by Daniel Defense in Bryan County, WJCL-TV Savannah reports.

Fox News reports the company has pulled out of its role as an exhibitor at the NRA convention in Texas this week.

“Daniel Defense is not attending the National Rifle Association (‘NRA’) meeting due to the horrifying tragedy in Uvalde, Texas where one of our products was criminally misused,” Steve Reed, Vice President of Marketing for Daniel Defense, told Fox News Digital in a statement Thursday.

Daniel Defense also manufactured some of the weapons used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting at a country music festival that killed 58 and injured about 500 more.


Senate candidate Herschel Walker was asked twice this week whether policy makers should look at new safety restrictions for guns.

Asked by CNN as he walked through his victory party Tuesday night, Walker said, “What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff’.”

Two days later, he told Fox News, in part, “What about looking at getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women that’s looking at their social media?”

The AJC’s Shannon McCaffery writes about Walker’s own turbulent history with weapons:

Walker's ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, said he repeatedly held a gun to her head and threatened to blow her “brains out." A Dallas County judge was worried enough about the possibility of violence that in 2005 he temporarily took away Walker's guns when he granted Grossman a restraining order. Walker has chalked up the violent episodes to a mental illness he said has now been treated.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has committed to debating his opponent Herschel Walker three times leading up to the November general election.

Warnock did not specify which debates, though he said they “would take place across the state and be hosted by Georgia media organizations.”

Walker never debated his primary opponents and he walked away with a decisive win. He has repeatedly said he would debate Warnock in a general election, though his campaign wouldn’t immediately commit to the three showdowns.


Herschel Walker is getting some serious outside help.

A group called One Nation reserved airtime for next week to help the GOP candidate’s campaign to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock, making it the second organization with plans to spend big money this summer for the Republican.

We haven’t seen any significant ad spend yet slated for the summer from outside groups for Warnock.


This week also saw competitive primaries for several state lawmakers:

  • GOP state Rep. David Clark, a frequent critic of House Speaker David Ralston, defeated state Rep. Bonnie Rich in a redrawn Gwinnett district, the Gwinnett Daily News reports. Rich oversaw the redistricting process that created the new lines;
  • Democratic state Rep. Beth Moore narrowly lost to Democratic activist Nabilah Islam for the open District 7 seat. Islam will now face Josh McKay, who defeated Bill Sandman to advance to the November general election, the AJC’s Dave Wickert reports;
  • Democrat Jason Esteves and Republican Fred Glass won their respective primaries Tuesday night for state Senate District 6, the Marietta Daily Journal reports. They’ll now face off in November to replace state Sen. Jen Jordan.


The Republican primary in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District is down to two runoff candidates: Attorney Chris West and Jeremy Hunt, a West Point graduate finishing up law school.

While Hunt boasts endorsements from national figures like Nikki Haley and Newt Gingrich, former candidates in the area appear to be rallying around West.

Wayne Johnson, who finished third in the primary, said he is backing West. And so is Don Cole, who won the party’s primary in 2020 before losing in the general election to incumbent Sanford Bishop.

Two other former rivals also endorsed West: Vivian Childs and Paul Whitehead.

Bishop will face either Hunt or West in November in what will be Georgia’s only truly competitive congressional race.


In other endorsement news, former insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens has endorsed Vernon Jones in the 10th Congressional District. Hudgens is a resident of Madison County and had previously endorsed state Rep. Timothy Barr.


They say victory has 1,000 fathers, and yesterday was no exception.

When the good news came in that Qcells, the solar module manufacturer in Dalton, is planning a $171 million expansion, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office put out a press release, including a quote from Kemp highlighting his relationship with the Korean company and details on the 470 jobs expected to come with the new work.

Moments later, Sen. Raphael Warnock’s office released a statement with a quote from Qcells CEO Justin Lee thanking Warnock for his “leadership and commitment to growing this critical industry in Georgia and across the United States.”

But Sen. Jon Ossoff’s office seems to have topped them all, with this quote from the Qcells CEO:

“Nobody has been a bigger champion for Qcells and domestic solar manufacturing than Senator Ossoff. His landmark Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, if passed, would create a new paradigm in which this would be the first of many such investments made in Georgia and around the United States.”

No matter who gets the credit, it’s more good news for Georgia’s hot manufacturing sector.


Posted: Federal investigators have interviewed several Georgia Republicans who refused to join a phony slate of GOP electors to help Donald Trump’s failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.


Chuck Eaton won his election for a term on the Fulton County Superior Court bench after serving 15 years on the Public Service Commission, where he won three statewide elections.


The “Georgia Votes” coordinated Democratic campaign will open its first field office of the cycle following its launch this week with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Sandy Springs.


Today in Washington:

  • Both the House and Senate are out until June 6.
  • President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.


POSTED: Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde is part of a small group of ultra-conservative House Republicans who have begun opposing Congressional honors for people with links to hot-button issues they oppose, a review by the AJC has found.

This deep dive by Tia Mitchell and AJC investigative reporter Chris Joyner is worth your time.


The U.S. Sen. Judiciary Committee deadlocked on whether to recommend Nancy Gbana Abudu to serve as a federal judge for the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Republicans who opposed Abudu during the Judiciary hearing said she is part of a recent slate of “activist judicial appointees,” according to Roll Call.

Abudu’s nomination could still advance to the Senate floor for confirmation, though more procedural votes would be required.

The Committee also deadlocked over Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson, while the Senate Banking Committee cast a tie vote for Lisa Cook to join the Federal Reserve Board. Both were eventually confirmed.


Tell the kids: Stacey Abrams is now on TikTok.


hi, it’s Stacey Abrams. It’s about [redacted] time i joined TikTok

♬ About Damn Time - Lizzo


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