Campaign

Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor

Vernon Jones is closing the gap with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the nascent Republican gubernatorial primary ahead of next year's elections, according to polling obtained by The Hill.  

An internal poll commissioned by Jones's campaign and conducted by the GOP firm Remington Research Group shows Kemp with a narrow 39 percent to 35 percent lead over Jones among likely Republican primary voters, putting him just slightly outside the survey's 3 percentage point margin of error. 

There are signs that Jones has room to grow his support further. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they are still undecided in the race, and overall, 55 percent said they are open to considering another candidate, compared to 35 percent who are committed to backing Kemp's reelection in 2022.

Jones, a former state representative and Democrat who joined the GOP in January, launched his bid for governor last month, becoming the first and only prominent Republican so far to challenge Kemp. 

Once seen as a staunch ally of former President Trump, Kemp became a political punching bag for the businessman after he rejected Trump's pleas to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Trump has vowed to campaign against him next year, though he has not yet endorsed Jones's bid.

The poll from Jones's campaign illustrates just how much influence Trump may end up having in the race. 

Eighty-seven percent of GOP primary voters reported a favorable opinion of the former president, nearly twice as many as the 45 percent who said they have a favorable view of Kemp. Presented with a hypothetical endorsement from Trump, the poll shows Jones pulling ahead of Kemp, at 38 percent to 36 percent.

The poll also found that a plurality of respondents - 43 percent - identify as "Trump Republicans," compared to 22 percent who see themselves as "Evangelical Republicans," 17 percent as "traditional Republicans" and 4 percent as Libertarians.

Jones remains an unknown quantity to many GOP voters in Georgia. While 33 percent said they have a favorable opinion of him and 20 percent reported an unfavorable opinion, nearly half of respondents, a 47 percent, said they have no opinion at all of him.

The poll, fielded from May 1-3, is based on responses from 1,040 likely 2022 Republican primary voters in Georgia.

It's unclear who else may enter the GOP primary for Georgia governor. Former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a top Trump ally who was once seen as a potential candidate, announced last month that he would not run for any public office in 2022. State Sen. Burt Jones is also seen as a potential contender.

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