Monday, July 23, 2018

Trump flexing his political muscles with GOP endorsements

WASHINGTON (AP) — Competing in a contested runoff campaign for Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp didn’t see it coming: the single-most prized endorsement in Republican politics.

When President Donald Trump tweeted his support last week of Kemp over his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Georgia secretary of state was holding a news conference announcing another endorsement from a former primary rival. It was only later that Kemp found out the president had unexpectedly delivered his “full and total endorsement” without any advance warning.

The endorsement ahead of Tuesday’s runoff was the latest example of how Trump has become more emboldened in offering his imprimatur on a number of Republican contests — despite being burned in a bitter Alabama Senate campaign last year.

Three Trump administration officials said Trump endorsed Kemp after conferring with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor who officials said circumvented the internal process on endorsements to advocate on Kemp’s behalf. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. A representative for Perdue didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Trump has also been inclined to endorse Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for governor ahead of the state’s August 7 primary, two of the administration officials said. But aides have warned the president that it would alienate Republicans loyal to Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, who succeeded Sam Brownback when Trump selected him for a diplomatic post.

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