The Jolt: Kemp-Perdue battle ignites MAGA war of words

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks with then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2017 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks with then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2017 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Chris Christie isn’t messing around. After your Insiders brought you the news yesterday that the former New Jersey governor and two other current governors will soon be headed to Georgia to rally for Gov. Brian Kemp, former President Donald Trump issued a predictable response.

Trump labeled Christie, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts “RINOs” – Republicans in name only – as he inaccurately claimed they were in Georgia on Wednesday. (They’re appearing later this month.)

What was less predictable was the counterattack by Christie, once a member of the Trump inner circle who now counts himself among the wing fighting the former president’s attempt to maintain his hold on the GOP.

Soon after Trump’s statement, Christie fired back on social media.

“Insightful commentary about three Republican Governors who were overwhelmingly re-elected by their people from a former president who lost to Joe Biden,” he tweeted. “Maybe the “R” in RINO really stands for re-elected.”


If Gov. Brian Kemp is increasingly becoming the face of the establishment wing of the GOP, plenty of other Republicans are moving further toward the Donald Trump branch.

That includes state Sen. Burt Jones, a candidate for lieutenant governor who is headed to New Jersey on June 9 for a fundraiser hosted by the former president at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster.

Tickets start at $500 per person and $1,000 per couple. Snagging a picture with Jones and Trump requires raising $25,000 for his campaign.

Just scheduling the event in June, after the May 24 primary, requires a certain amount of swagger. But Jones is confident he’s at least headed to a runoff against Senate GOP leader Butch Miller on June 21.


U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is continuing his breakneck fundraising pace. He’ll report raising nearly $5.6 million between April 1 and May 4 in a special federal filing he’s set to submit later today.

More than 113,000 donors gave to his campaign, giving the Democrat an average of $37.63 a pop.

It’s not immediately clear how much is left in the bank, but Warnock reported in his last disclosure that he amassed more than $25.6 million in cash-on-hand.


The campaign endorsements keep rolling in, including:

  • The National Federation of Independent Business Georgia PAC will endorse Gov. Brian Kemp over former CEO David Perdue Thursday. The PAC said its endorsement is based on Kemp’s record and position on small business issues;
  • Not to be outdone, former Sen. David Perdue noted his endorsement from Bikers for Trump yesterday in a very Sea Island-meets-Harley Davidson moment;
  • Jake Evans, 6th Congressional District GOP candidate, picked up the endorsement from Turning Point USA.


A measure to protect abortion access nationally failed in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday with every Republican and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin opposed. Georgia’s Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were among the 49 Democrats who voted in favor of the bill.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would have guaranteed access to abortion services up to the point of fetal viability. It also would have superseded state laws like Georgia’s six-week abortion ban and a law passed this year requiring an in-person, rather than a telehealth, appointment to access abortion pills.

A leaked Supreme Court ruling indicating conservative justices could overturn Roe v. Wade created renewed interest among Democrats to pass a federal abortion law. But there isn’t a clear path forward without the 60 votes needed to avoid a GOP-led filibuster.

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the failed vote Tuesday. Afterward she laid out how Democrats plan to use abortion to drive turnout during the midterms.

“It also makes clear that a priority for all who care about this issue -- a priority should be to elect pro-choice leaders at the local, the state, and the federal level, because what we are seeing around this country are extremist Republican leaders who are seeking to criminalize and punish women for making decisions about their own body,” she said.


Today in Washington:

  • The Senate will vote on a confirmation, but will be winding down so that members can fly home for the weekend;
  • The House also has a slate of mostly non-controversial bills lined up for floor votes;
  • The House-Senate conference on a bill to bolster U.S. competitiveness against China will hold its first meeting this afternoon.


Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is one of four Georgia lawmakers serving on that conference committee for the China competitiveness legislation, and we have a preview of the remarks he plans to share later today.

He will outline his priorities for the measure: that its provisions lower costs by addressing supply chain issues and material shortages, and prepare for the future by investing in research and innovation, especially in Georgia.

“I am working to ensure this bill uplifts families and communities across Georgia, from researchers at Savannah State to startup founders in Atlanta to young students in our rural communities, who will make scientific discoveries that we cannot yet imagine,” Warnock plans to say, according to his prepared remarks.

Georgia Reps. Sanford Bishop, David Scott and Buddy Carter are also serving on the conference committee.

One company with Georgia ties that’s felt major impacts from a chip shortage is Kia, which operates a plant in West Point. Warnock met earlier this week with senior Kia executives, when he also offered his support for a potential new facility that Kia’s parent company is seeking to build in coastal Georgia.


President Joe Biden released a statement early Thursday morning marking the nation’s 1 million COVID deaths since the start of the pandemic.

“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” he said. “To heal, we must remember.”

Biden called for continued vigilance against the virus and said Congress should continue to provide the resources to do that.


POSTED: Shannon McCaffrey reports that a Forsyth County voter has challenged the eligibility of more than 13,000 other voters in the county.

Under the state's 2021 election law, any voter can challenge the eligibility of as many voters in their county or city as they wish. County elections officials must then hold a hearing.

Smith said the challenge would be heard Thursday at a previously scheduled meeting of the county's five-member Board of Voter Registration and Elections. Under the section of the law cited by Schneider, the voters in question would not be removed from the rolls but could be flagged for additional review if they attempt to vote in the primary.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The Democratic National Committee launched an ad buy Thursday that targets older Georgia residents with messages attacking Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s tax plan.

The ad, which will run on Facebook, highlights concerns that the proposal would raise the federal income tax for about half of U.S. residents.

Though Scott has argued that Democrats are twisting his words, the plan he released in February calls for all Americans to “pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount” before noting that more than half of Americans now pay no income tax.

Watch the ad here.


The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation will hold its inaugural gala next week in Washington with a guest list that shows the lasting affection for Lewis in the Capitol.

Actress Alfre Woodard will host the event, with remarks from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jim Clyburn, Sen. Jon Ossoff, and Sen. Raphael Warnock. Charlayne Hunter-Gault and artist Common will also participate in the first “Good Trouble Talk” interview.

The foundation was conceived by the late Congressman to carry on his and his wife’s passion for “purposeful living and civic engagement.”


We’re raising our coffee cups this morning to salute our own Tia Mitchell, who won the David Lynch Regional Reporting Award from the Washington Press Club Foundation last night. Congrats, Tia!


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

Sign Up to receive the Morning Jolt & AJC Politics newsletters in your inbox.