Trump’s endorsement likely cements Shafer’s bid to lead Georgia GOP again

12/14/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia —  Georgia Republican Chairman David Shafer speaks with members of the media at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020. Georgia Republicans held a meeting in the Capitol building at the same time of the the official ballot casting by the Georgia Electoral College. The Electoral College unanimously voted for President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
12/14/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia Republican Chairman David Shafer speaks with members of the media at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Monday, December 14, 2020. Georgia Republicans held a meeting in the Capitol building at the same time of the the official ballot casting by the Georgia Electoral College. The Electoral College unanimously voted for President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Donald Trump endorsed David Shafer’s bid to win a second term as Georgia GOP chair, likely cementing his chances to serve again as state party leader after he promoted falsehoods that election fraud factored into the former president’s defeat.

Shafer was facing growing internal pressure after Georgia voted Democratic for president for the first time since 1992 and Republican incumbents were swept in January’s U.S. Senate runoffs. But Trump’s support gives Shafer a decisive edge among grassroots activists who still view Trump as the unquestioned party leader.

“No one in Georgia fought harder for me than David! He NEVER gave up!” Trump said in a statement. “He has my Complete and Total Endorsement for re-election.”

Shafer faces opposition from Jason Shepherd, the Cobb GOP chair, whose platform centered on uniting a divided party after grievous defeats. Shepherd said Wednesday he would remain in the race, though his supporters privately acknowledged his bid may now be futile.

“David Shafer had his shot but lost every key election in Georgia, including Trump’s and both U.S. Senate seats,” said Shepherd. “It’s time for new party leadership in Georgia that will be focused on building infrastructure to elect Republicans across Georgia.”

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At stake is control of a state GOP infrastructure that will coordinate how the party will spend millions of dollars and chart out strategy in the 2022 elections, when Gov. Brian Kemp and every other statewide constitutional official will be on the ballot, along with newly elected Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.

The fractious but powerful state GOP organization is coming off a record-breaking fundraising cycle – and disastrous defeats – after the runoffs ended with the ousters of Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in races dominated by Trump’s efforts to reverse his loss in Georgia.

Shafer, a former state senator who lost a 2018 bid for lieutenant governor, endorsed Trump’s sham narrative of widespread voting fraud in Georgia and filed a lawsuit alleging the improper counting of ballots.

He also engineered a vote of a shadow slate of GOP electors on the same day Democrats formally approved the state’s 16 electoral votes for President Joe Biden. And in February, he and other state GOP officials approved a lengthy list of recommendations to limit voting.

There was no evidence of systemic voting fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election, and state and federal officials repeatedly debunked the false narratives Trump and his allies promoted following his defeat. Courts at every level dismissed challenges brought by Trump’s campaign and its supporters.

Trump’s endorsement of Shafer is yet another sign of the former president’s near-obsession with Georgia politics -- and his fury at state GOP officials he blames for his narrow defeat.

He has vowed to back a primary challenger against Kemp, encouraged Georgia football legend Herschel Walker to run for U.S. Senate, and this week endorsed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s challenge against fellow Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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