The Jolt: Trump’s 2022 prediction for Brian Kemp: ‘The base isn’t going to show up’

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 5, 2020 Valdosta - President Donald Trump speaks during Republican National Committee's Victory Rally at the Valdosta Flying Services in Valdosta on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /



December 5, 2020 Valdosta - President Donald Trump speaks during Republican National Committee's Victory Rally at the Valdosta Flying Services in Valdosta on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /

Senior Republicans can’t seem to get Donald Trump to lay off Gov. Brian Kemp, as much as they wish he would. In an interview Thursday, the former president called Kemp “a disaster” and predicted that the governor he once embraced would lose in November.

It’s just a preview of what’s expected at Trump’s score-settling rally on Saturday in Perry.

“We’ll see who’s going to be running against Kemp, but I would imagine somebody will. If somebody ran, they’d win in the Republican primary,” Trump told radio host John Fredericks of Kemp.

“But he’s not going to be able to win the general election anyway, because the base isn’t going to show up for him.”

Kemp has already drawn several challengers, of course, including party-switching former Democrat Vernon Jones. But Jones remains too laden with political baggage for most Republicans to support, a dynamic that seems to extend to Trump.

The former president is clearly open to supporting another GOP challenger. But if you think that might be former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, you might be wrong. Trump invoked Perdue’s name during the interview, angry for persuading him to endorse Kemp in 2018.

“I got a couple of calls, and they asked me to do it. I said, ‘Well, if you tell me he’s good.’ You know, you rely on people for that,” Trump said. “I endorsed him and he was a disaster, frankly. Bad for Georgia, and really bad for the election.”

Despite Kemp’s refusal to criticize Trump, the former president called Kemp “almost like a Democrat in disguise” and slammed the new election law that Republicans passed through the state legislature, largely in an effort to assuage angry Trump voters.

“Your election law is no good,” Trump said.

One Georgia candidate Trump can get behind: Herschel Walker, whom Trump took credit for getting into the Senate race.

“He did this at my behest,” he said.

For the record, Trump has said repeatedly that David Perdue’s cousin, Sonny Perdue, was responsible for the endorsement of Kemp.

No matter who convinced Trump to endorse Kemp the first time around, it’s obvious that his fixation on Kemp now is threatening a repeat of the nightmare scenario that Trump created for Republicans heading into the Senate runoffs earlier this year.

As the days counted down to the January contests, Trump and his allies undercut Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and Georgia’s elections over and over again. Predictably, significant portions of the GOP base stayed home on Election Day.


We now officially know when the “frost is on the pumpkin.”

On Thursday afternoon, Governor Brian Kemp formally “put the call” for a special session of the Legislature to redraw the state’s congressional, state House and state Senate maps. The session will begin Nov. 3 and run for about three weeks.

No other topics were added to the call, despite pressure for Kemp to address other issues like crime, election laws, and a possible Buckhead City breakaway from Atlanta.

To help readers get ready for the “excruciatingly technical” process, our colleague Isaac Sabetai has created a terrific illustrated guide to redistricting in Georgia. It includes charts, maps, and a blow-by-blow breakdown to help you visualize the data that will go into the redistricting process later this year.


POSTED: The AJC’s Maya T. Prabu details the results of a new study that offers one version of what new Georgia districts could look like if they reflected the partisan makeup of the states’ voters, instead of the partisan makeup of the state’s leaders.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project and nonprofit Fair Districts GA partnered on the study, released Thursday, that they say provides “fairness benchmarks" for partisan balance, minority representation and competitive districts. The groups define fair maps as those that respect voters' political preferences and allow for competition, reflect Georgia's diversity by creating some districts made up of a majority of nonwhite voters, and keep like-minded communities together.

“The partisan gap is very clearly narrowed, and we are much closer to a swing state across all three maps," Fair Districts GA Chairman Ken Lawler said, referring to state House, Senate and congressional districts.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


The U.S. House signed off the annual defense authorization bill Thursday, setting up negotiations with the Senate on a final compromise agreement.

But Georgia Reps. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, and Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, voted “no.”

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene did not vote at all. However, she and other members of the House Freedom Caucus said they could not support the National Defense Authorization Act because of language requiring women to register for the military draft. Clyde also spoke out against the provision during floor debate.

The House spent the last two days considering a series of amendments, including some that had only tangential connections to national defense. U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams celebrated after her colleagues voted to add language mirroring bills she authored providing resources to childcare providers and reestablishing the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force.

Williams tells us her “no” vote for the larger bill was because the overall defense budget was increased by $25 billion at Republicans’ request and beyond what President Joe Biden had originally proposed.

The House also rejected an amendment from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson by a 198-230 vote. It would have prohibited the Defense Department from transferring surplus property to federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies. Johnson and other critics say the practice has resulted in a dangerous and unnecessary militarization of the police.

The practice became popular in law enforcement communities in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

This year’s defense bill passed more smoothly than last year’s, when Democrats added language requiring bases named after Confederate leaders to be renamed.


We mentioned yesterday that House Republicans criticized Democrats for removing funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” from a bill that included temporary funding to avoid a government shutdown along with disaster relief aid. Instead, Democrats introduced a standalone bill that passed overwhelmingly on Thursday.

A handful of lawmakers, eight progressive Democrats and one far-right Republican, voted “no” on the measure. Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a long-time critic of U.S. policies regarding Israel and Palestine, joined New York’s U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in voting “present.” That allowed them to log concerns about the legislation without being a “no.”


Kasim Reed has released his third ad in his race to return as Atlanta mayor, touting his accomplishments during his previous two terms and casting him as the only candidate who can solve the city’s struggle to reduce crime.

“We can be a city on a hill again,” Reed says in ad.


POSTED: The health care proposals packed into Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social services and climate change package could help millions of Georgians gain health care coverage or reduce out-of-pocket spending.

But only if Democrats can overcome fierce internal disagreements over the size of the bill and what it should include. Some of the provisions, such as a plan to expand Medicaid in Georgia and 11 other states, could be scaled back or eliminated.

Georgia Democrats, including U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, are working to keep it in. But there is criticism and competition with other proposals, plus concern the package’s overall price tag is too high.

The question remains whether Democrats can keep their own coalition together to get something done.

Insider Tia Mitchell has the details.


Mark your calendars for October 12, when the Atlanta Press Club will sponsor debates for Atlanta’s municipal races.

All of the panels will livestreamed on the Press Club’s website and air at various times on Georgia Public Broadcasting. See the Press Club’s website for specific dates and times. .

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also scheduled a Community Conversation with the top five mayoral candidates for 5:00 on Oct. 4, which will stream live from the paper’s YouTube and Facebook channels. City Hall reporters Wilborn Nobles and J.D. Capelouto will be moderating. RSVP here.


U.S. Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge is headed to Atlanta on Monday to meet with lawmakers and talk up President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.

Fudge will tour Herndon Square,a $166 million project under construction in the Westside that includes affordable housing. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams are all scheduled to join her.

Her second stop will be Browns Mill Village, a Habitat for Humanity project in southeast Atlanta. Later, Fudge will participate in a community conversation with Habitat chief executive Jonathan Reckford.


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