Former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democrat-turned-Republican, announced Friday he will seek to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in the Republican primary for the Georgia governor’s race.
Jones gained attention after he broke with the Democrat Party last year to endorse former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, citing Trump’s support for black Americans. In January, Jones formally left the party to become a Republican.
“For those of you who feel the incumbent governor didn’t fight for you, a new day has dawned,” Jones said Friday in a press conference announcing his decision, per local outlet WABE.
Kemp became a target for Trump after the former president lost in the historically red state of Georgia, following two recounts, by a razor-thin margin of about 12,000 votes. He repeatedly criticized Kemp for not doing enough to preserve election integrity and claimed the election was “rigged.”
In January, Trump vowed to campaign against Kemp, saying, “I’m going to be here in a year and a half and I’m going to be campaigning against your governor and your crazy secretary of state, that I can tell you.”
While the former president has made several endorsements for the upcoming midterms, he has not, as of the time of this writing, made an endorsement announcement for the Georgia governor’s race. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who aided the former president in legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, wrote on social media of Jones, “This is the right man to reform Georgia”:
This is the right man to reform Georgia. https://t.co/Wa5ycn3OBZ
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) April 16, 2021
Despite Trump’s repeated attacks on him, Kemp has shown support for Trump as recently as last month, saying he would back the former president if he ran again in 2024.
Jones during his press conference also said he could beat Stacey Abrams, the prominent Democrat activist and potential 2022 contender who lost to Kemp in 2018. After Kemp signed into law a high-profile election integrity bill in March, Abrams called the bill “Jim Crow 2.0,” claiming it would suppress racial minorities’ votes.
Jones said during his press conference, “No one can play that race card with me. I dare you to.”
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