Trump’s ‘get-even list’ got longer, after his candidates lost in Georgia

Like the Lord High Executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” Donald Trump also has “a little list of society’s offenders … who never would be missed.”

Actually, Trump’s list of offenders isn’t so little. It’s a “get-even” list of just about anyone who ever offended the former president. And during this campaign year, no one holds a more prominent place on the list, perhaps, than Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp who, because he wouldn’t help overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia for Trump, was singled out in a statement released by the former president as “the worst ‘election integrity’ Governor in the country.”

So, how should we characterize Kemp’s landslide victory on Tuesday — with almost 74 percent of the vote — over Trump’s hand-picked, loyal stand-in, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, to whom Trump gave his “complete and total” endorsement?

Kemp isn’t the only villain on Trump’s revenge list. In Georgia, he also tried to knock out Secretary of State Brad Raffenssperger and Attorney General Chris Carr for their refusal to undo Joe Biden’s victory in the state. They also won, easily. 

So it’s hard to see how Kemp’s overwhelming victory — and that of the two other state officials who wouldn’t help overturn the 2020 Georgia results — is anything but a humiliating defeat for Trump.  

We’ll see how it plays out, but at the moment it looks like Kemp’s victory might mean that a lot of Republicans — though almost certainly not Donald Trump — are ready to put the 2020 election in the rearview mirror.

Voters may still like Trump personally, and they may still support his combative style and confrontational rhetoric, but Perdue’s loss may demonstrate that his obsession with the supposed “stolen presidential election” has simply become tiresome. Donald Trump may be fixated on the 2020 election, but if Georgia’s latest election results are any indication, many other Republicans are not.

And that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, one of Kemp’s biggest supporters. One day before the election, Pence told a rally in Atlanta, “When you say yes to Gov. Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will send a deafening message all across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future.”  

Even though he didn’t mention Trump by name, his words clearly were a dig at the former president — and maybe even a sign that Pence could run for president in 2024, whether Trump runs or not.

I suspect that even some Republicans who agree with Trump’s contention that the election was rigged may be ready to move on. Trump may not be able to do that, but voters instinctively understand that elections are about the future, not the past.

And now Brian Kemp will run against Stacey Abrams, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and who, at times, sounds a lot like — wait for it — Donald Trump.

After she lost to Kemp in 2018, Abrams said: “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. … I cannot concede.”  

After he lost the 2020 presidential election, Trump said: “We will never concede. … You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

Last December, in an interview on CNN, Abrams said that Kemp “won under the rules of the game at the time, but the game was rigged against the voters of Georgia.”

After he lost in 2020, Trump tweeted, in an account now suspended: “He [Biden] only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA, I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”

“And Stacey Abrams, who still has not conceded, and that’s OK,” Trump said last September at a campaign rally in Georgia. “Stacey, would you like to take [Kemp’s] place? It’s OK with me.”

Before this is over, I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump formally endorses Stacey Abrams for governor. And why wouldn’t he? She’s more in tune with his view of Georgia’s supposedly “rigged” politics than Brian Kemp ever was.

Whoever said “Politics makes for strange bedfellows” was definitely on to something.

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.

Tags 2022 elections Brian Kemp Georgia 2020 election Rigged elections Stacey Abrams Trump endorsements

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