Donald Trump's supporters have been angered with Gov. Brian Kemp since he refused to try and overturn the former president's electoral loss

By Virginia Chamlee
June 08, 2021 02:37 PM
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Brian Kemp
Brian Kemp
| Credit: Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was reportedly met with a mix of cheers and jeers at the state's GOP convention last weekend as supporters of Donald Trump continue to express their displeasure at those who didn't seek to overturn his November defeat.

In Kemp's appearance at the convention, which took place in Jekyll Island, the shouts directed at Kemp were so loud that it was difficult to make out much of his remarks, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Whenever the governor's supporters cheered, opponents booed," the AJC reported. "Whenever Kemp's opponents booed, supporters would try to drown them out with cheers."

As reporter Maya Prabhu noted on Twitter, Kemp received his first big bout of applause when he said Georgia was the first state to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incident highlights the latest example of fractures in the Republican Party, particularly between Trump supporters and those whom they accuse of not doing enough to keep him in office - even stalwart conservatives like Kemp.

The reaction also highlights the ongoing rift between Kemp and the former president, who has become an ardent critic of someone he backed in the past.

While Trump was still in office, he expressed displeasure at the way Kemp reopened his state, telling ABC News' Jon Karl, "I wasn't happy with Brian Kemp: spas, beauty parlors, tattoo parlors, no," referring to some of the businesses Kemp allowed to reopen (with restrictions) in Georgia in April 2020.

"I told him very distinctly - Mike [Pence] was there - I said, 'Do what you think is best.' But if you ask me, am I happy about it? I'm not happy about it and I'm not happy about Brian Kemp," Trump said then.

But it was the governor's actions in the wake of Trump's electoral defeat in Georgia that most angered him and his supporters.

After Trump lost, Kemp resisted his demands to somehow overturn the vote - opting not to convene a special legislative session at Trump's behest and issuing a statement in which he said doing so "in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under state or federal law."

Trump continued to claim fraud in Georgia, without providing evidence, even after the state certified its election results following a statewide hand recount.

Kemp didn't mention Trump's name during his speech at the convention, a sign that he is likely attempting to distance himself both from the former president and his election lies.

Heading into his 2022 reelection campaign, Kemp again faces a possible challenger in Democrat Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to him in 2018 and who is widely expected to run against him on the heels of her work organizing voters and the state's shift left.

Two groups founded by Abrams, the New Georgia Project and then Fair Fight, have been central to an enormous registration drive in the state in recent years, leading to some 800,000 new voters between 2018 and the 2020 election.

With Joe Biden's win (and, later, the elections of two Democratic Senators in runoff elections), the crucial Republican state flipped blue for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Despite Trump's continued false claims that he actually won the state, his campaign eventually dropped its election lawsuits in Georgia.

Trump left office in January after a historic double impeachment, but his popularity with the conservative base has not ebbed and, as he teases a possible 2024 run, he remains the GOP's dominant figure.

He and his supporters have turned their attention to those who didn't cave to his pressure to overturn the election in his favor or those who voted in favor of impeachment.

During Georgia's GOP convention over the weekend, for instance, a resolution was passed to censure Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump had implored to undo his defeat.

It is unlikely that Trump will prove an ally of Kemp's as the latter heads into his next campaign: The former president vowed to a Georgia crowd in January that he would spend the 2022 race "campaigning against your governor."