Georgia's Brian Kemp Faces 2022 Onslaught by Enraged Donald Trump, Ascendant Stacey Abrams

While voting in Georgia's Senate runoffs has concluded, even the momentous results—which look set to deliver Democrats a surprise majority in the upper chamber—won't mark an end to political drama in the state. And Gov. Brian Kemp is at the center of it.

Embattled Kemp is teed up for a stern challenge from not only the Democrats but within his own party if he opts to run for his position again in Georgia's 2022 gubernatorial elections.

The Republican governor has enraged President Donald Trump by refusing to back unevidenced claims of widespread electoral fraud at the 2020 election in the state.

Kemp would likely face a Trump-backed Republican rival in the primary for the party's gubernatorial nomination. Such is Trump's popularity within the Republican party, the president is set to be a kingmaker in GOP primaries.

Trump has said he was "ashamed" to have backed Kemp in 2018, while he has openly said he would back a primary challenger.

Speaking to Fox News in November as he criticized Kemp over his actions following the election, which the governor defended as simply following the law, Trump said: "The governor's done nothing, he's done absolutely nothing. I'm ashamed that I endorsed him."

Trump also retweeted a post suggesting Kemp should be jailed and demanded his resignation, labeling him an "obstructionist."

Kemp branded those comments a distraction, insisting then that his focus was on backing Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the Georgia runoffs.

Even as polls showed a tight race in the pivotal Georgia runoffs, Trump did not let up in his attacks on the state's Republican officials, including Kemp, and their handling of the last election.

At a final rally in Georgia before Tuesday's vote, Trump said directly that "I will be here in a year and a half and I will be campaigning against your governor."

In December, Trump specifically suggested former Republican Rep. Doug Collins run against Kemp. He said: "Doug, you want to run for governor in two years? He'd be a good-looking governor."

Though this matchup is hypothetical, the Trafalgar Group conducted polling which showed Collins leading Kemp if they were to face off for the governorship. The weight of Trump's endorsement might mean Collins could secure the GOP nomination.

Trump shared these poll results and wrote: "Wow, I guess it's not good to go against a President who everyone in Georgia knows got you into office!"

Should Kemp successfully overcome Trump's forceful opposition, he would move on to the next political fight—an emboldened Stacey Abrams, who is tipped to challenge for the role again having been his losing rival in 2018.

While he defeated her then, the race was tight, with just more than one percent of the vote in it.

At the time, Abrams alleged the outcome was tainted due to actions by Kemp in the race, suggesting his success came from suppressing votes.

As Kemp faces criticism from prior advocates, Abrams' stock has risen since that contest, with her work credited as being key to President-elect Joe Biden's surprise win in Georgia.

Given the Democrats' apparent senatorial success there too, she would go into 2022 boosted in having paid a key part in defeating three incumbent Republicans.

Abrams was also given credit for her significant contribution to the campaigns of Democratic runoff candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who both declared wins in their races, though the final official results are at the time of writing yet to be called.

Speaking to NBC News ahead of the runoff votes, Abrams said she hoped Biden's win was "the beginning of a pattern." That pattern seems to have continued with the runoffs. Two years from now, Kemp may become a part of that too.

Newsweek has contacted Kemp's office for comment.

brian kemp at election night event
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks as his wife Marty Kemp looks on during a run-off election night party at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead January 5, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is set to face stern hurdles should he want to run for his position again. Alex Wong/Getty Images

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