Dear Commons Community,
Michelle Cottle, New York Times editorial board member, had a piece yesterday entitled, “The Man Who Neutered Trump,” in which she elevates Georgia Governor Brian Kemp as someone who stood up to the former president and serves as a beacon for the GOP to dump Trump and get its political house in order. Here is an excerpt:
“Throughout his re-election race, Mr. Kemp practiced scrupulous social distancing from his ticketmate [Herschel Walker]. The men did not do joint events. Mr. Kemp did not talk up — or even about — Mr. Walker. When asked about the distance between their campaigns, Mr. Kemp tended to make vague noises about supporting “the entire ticket.”
Which, honestly, was the only sensible course of action, considering the freak show that has been Mr. Walker’s candidacy. Accusations of domestic abuse? Semisecret children? Allegations (which he denies) that he paid for abortions for multiple women? Making up stuff about his academic and business ventures? The guy has more baggage than a Kardashian on a round-the-world cruise. No candidate with a sense of self-preservation would want to get close to that hot mess.
But now! Mr. Kemp is having a moment. Having secured another four years in office — despite being targeted for removal in the primaries by a certain bitter ex-president — he is feeling looser, freer, more inclined to lend a hand to Walker.
Whatever happens with Mr. Walker, keep an eye on Mr. Kemp. The 59-year-old Georgia governor is positioning himself to be a major Republican player — one that, unlike so many in his party, is not a Trump chump.
If Mr. Kemp’s electoral victory over Stacey Abrams was decisive, besting her by more than seven percentage points, his psychological victory over Donald Trump was devastating, in ways you cannot measure in votes. Mr. Trump had targeted Mr. Kemp for defeat this year, after the governor refused to help him subvert the presidential election results in 2020. The former president put a lot of political capital on the line in his crusade against Mr. Kemp, only to get spanked once again in Georgia. The governor’s refusal to bow to Mr. Trump wound up burnishing his reputation across party lines, which served him well in the purplish state. In the general election last month, Mr. Kemp won 200,000 more votes than Mr. Walker did in his race
It’s all upside for Mr. Kemp. No one will seriously blame him if he can’t rescue a candidate as lousy as Mr. Walker, and he wins friends and influence within the party simply by trying. He also gets to wallow in his status as a separate, non-Trumpian power center. After all the abuse he has taken from Mr. Trump, the governor must on some level relish being asked to salvage the former president’s handpicked dud, even as the party made clear it did not want Mr. Trump anywhere near the Peach State this time. And if Mr. Kemp somehow manages to drag Mr. Walker to victory, clawing back one of the two Georgia Senate seats Mr. Trump helped cost the party last year, it will be an ostrich-size feather in his already heavily plumed cap — not to mention a fat thumb in Mr. Trump’s eye.”
Amen to all that Cottle says about Kemp except the part that “he somehow manages to drag Mr. Walker to victory.” The last thing the country needs is a Senator Walker!