The candidate President Trump endorsed last week won the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary runoff last night in a landslide.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who was was up about ten points in the polls when he received the president’s endorsement, defeated his primary runoff opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, by a stunning 39 points when all the votes were counted, 69.5 percent to 30.5 percent.
In the days preceding the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary runoff yesterday, political pundits in Tennessee speculated on how the outcome of that race might effect a potential Trump endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee’s August 2 Republican primary.
All four contenders–Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville)–have loudly announced their support for the Trump agenda throughout their campaigns.
But Black is the only candidate who is apparently under consideration for a potential Trump endorsement.
With the race now considered a tight battle between Boyd, Lee, and Black, a Trump endorsement of Black could potentially sway the final outcome of next Thursday’s GOP gubernatorial primary. A Tennessee Star Poll released on June 30 shows that President Trump has a sky high approval rating of 87 percent among likely Republican primary voters.
Had Kemp lost in Georgia last night, a Trump endorsement of Black would have been unlikely.
With Kemp’s resounding victory, however, a potential Trump endorsement of Black may now be back on the table.
But if that is the case, the question is–how long will it be under consideration?
With only four more days left in early voting, the consensus among political pundits surveyed informally by The Star is that a Trump endorsement would have to come either today (Wednesday) or tomorrow (Thursday) to have any impact on the outcome of next Thursday’s election.
The behind-the-scenes maneuvering both for and against a Trump endorsement of Black is ongoing, sources tell The Star.
As The Star reported on Saturday, “The New York Times confirmed on Friday a story first reported in The Tennessee Star that officials with the Republican Governors Association (RGA) are lobbying President Trump not to endorse Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) in the August 2 Republican primary for governor of Tennessee.”
“R.G.A. officials are lobbying the White House to keep Mr. Trump out of that race [in Kansas where Kris Kobach is running for governor against GOP establishment supported Jeff Colyer], where they are backing Mr. Colyer. They would also prefer he remain on the sidelines in Tennessee, where Representative Diane Black has been hoping to win Mr. Trump’s backing in the crowded August primary to succeed Mr. Haslam, who is term-limited,” the Times reported.
Multiple sources tell The Star that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who was the most vocal Never Trumper in the country up until the day Donald Trump was elected president on November 8, 2016 and serves as the chairman of the RGA, is aggressively lobbying the president directly to keep him from endorsing Black. Black played a key role as chairman of the House Budget Committee in passing the president’s landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts in December, the signature accomplishment of his administration to date.
“The reason offered by the RGA as to why President Trump shouldn’t endorse Trump conservatives like Black in Tennessee and Kobach in Kansas is ludicrous,” said a long-time and current high-ranking RGA official.
“What makes it particularly outrageous is that the effort to deny Trump endorsements to Trump conservatives is coming from the most notorious anti-Trump governor, Bill Haslam, who declared he would never vote for Trump and who called on Trump to withdraw from the race in 2016 just weeks before he was elected president,” the official added.
The next 48 hours will tell the tale.