President Donald Trump has been impeached (again). In less than a week, he won’t be President of the United States.
But the collateral damage strewn in the wake of his presidency – particularly in his wildly erratic last few months in office following his defeat by Joe Biden – remains. And the political world just keeps turning.
Which brings me to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who went from Trump acolyte to Trump scapegoat when he refused to overturn Biden’s win in the Peach State, and his pending 2022 reelection race.
Trump has made no secret of his desire to oust Kemp in next year’s Republican primary. He’s openly encouraged outgoing Rep. Doug Collins to take on Kemp and released a torrent of tweets (back when he could tweet) bashing the governor.
“Governor Kemp (@BrianKempGA) is down 18 points in a recent poll,” tweeted Trump in December. “Don’t believe it, must be more!”
Kemp, who took the incoming from Trump without a word, sat down with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein recently – and talked about what his post-Trump world will look like.
“I plan on running in 2022. I’m not worried about any kind of primary fight,” said Kemp, adding: “I think when people really start thinking about this and realize what’s at stake here, we’ve seen what a divisive primary does to our chances of winning.”
Maybe! (A poll released earlier this month showed Kemp with a wide lead over Collins, who has made no decisions about his future.)
But even if Kemp survives the primary, he’s almost certain to face a strengthened Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to him in 2018.
Abrams was widely credited with helping Democrats win both US Senate runoffs in Georgia earlier this month – including when her hand-selected candidate, Raphael Warnock, beat Kemp-appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Combine Biden’s win in November with the two Senate runoffs earlier this month and it’s now beyond debate that Georgia is a swing state – and one where the Republican brand, especially in the Atlanta suburbs, has been significantly tarnished by Trump.
The uncertainty surrounding Kemp’s 2022 prospects speaks to how even after Trump is no longer President, the chaos he wreaked will continue to shape American politics.
The Point: Kemp would love to be done with Trump. But Trump (and his acolytes) may not be done with Kemp.