ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Republican who ranks high on former President Donald J. Trump’s list of enemies, will face a high-profile pr
ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Republican who ranks high on former President Donald J. Trump’s list of enemies, will face a high-profile pro-Trump challenger in next year’s Republican primary: Vernon Jones, a former Democrat who, echoing the false claims of Mr. Trump, has called Georgia’s November presidential election “fixed” and “tainted.”
Mr. Jones, a former state representative and head of government in DeKalb County, tweeted on Thursday that he would formally introduce his candidacy at a news conference the next day, saying that “we need a fighter for Georgia.”
Mr. Trump has not endorsed a primary challenger to Mr. Kemp, who is seeking a second term in office. But the former president has vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against the governor, a former ally, to punish him for rebuffing Mr. Trump’s entreaties in December that he work to overturn the results of the Georgia election.
Mr. Trump lost the Georgia race by roughly 12,000 votes, a result that was certified by Republican state elections officials after two recounts. But he remains popular among members of the party’s base, and their willingness to punish Mr. Trump’s Republican enemies in 2022 may prove to be an important early sign of his sway over the party heading into the next presidential cycle.
Mr. Jones, 60, has a complex and controversial history in Georgia politics, and it is unclear if his entry into the race will turn out to be a serious threat to Mr. Kemp. But his candidacy guarantees that Georgia Republican voters will be forced to reckon with the ugly fight between Mr. Kemp and Mr. Trump as they choose a standard-bearer heading into the November 2022 general election.
This article will be updated.