Nearly two weeks after Georgia Republicans united to pass a controversial new election law, former President Donald Trump is calling it “watered-down” and “far too weak and soft to ensure real ballot integrity.”
Trump called the law “better than before” but decried that other “safety measures … were sadly left out.” He said the state should have abolished no-excuse absentee voting and eliminated absentee ballot drop boxes, ideas which did not have broad Republican support in the legislature.
A previous statement from Trump had congratulated the General Assembly on the legislation.
The comments set the stage for Trump’s ongoing influence in Georgia politics, after he took to regularly attacking the state’s top Republican officials for refusing to overturn the 2020 election, which Trump narrowly lost.
“I would remind the former president, that we’re all on the same team,” said Martha Zoller, a conservative talk show host in North Georgia, of his latest statement.
“This business of trying to divide Republicans based on a purity test is not helpful.”
Trump has pledged to campaign against Gov. Brian Kemp in his reelection bid and has already endorsed a challenger to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
His critique stands in stark contrast to the unified stance Georgia Republicans have recently had in their support for the law, and their defense against some of the corporate backlash from it, including Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game to Colorado.
The moment of unity came after a bruising 2020 election for Georgia Republicans, which featured a high-profile intraparty fight between former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Congressman Doug Collins, as well as Trump’s attacks on his fellow Georgia Republicans.
“Stacey Abrams, President Biden and the Major League Baseball boycott have managed to do what no other person could do, and that is reunify the Republican Party in Georgia,” said Heath Garrett, a Republican strategist in Georgia. “Sometimes a common enemy is what it takes.”
“I want to be clear: I will not be backing down from this fight. We will not be intimidated, and we will also not be silenced,” Kemp said at a Saturday press conference about MLB’s decision alongside other Republican state lawmakers, Congressman Drew Ferguson and Attorney General Chris Carr. “Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta may be scared of Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden and the left, but I am not.”
Zoller said despite this moment of unity, she believes Trump will follow through on his promise to stay involved in the 2022 elections.
“The outcome of those elections will probably determine whether he’s involved in the 2024 elections,” she said.
But despite Trump’s statement, in the wake of the unified Republican support behind the election law, Zoller said Kemp — who had grown unpopular among some in his party, thanks to the former president’s attacks — is in a better spot, politically.
Garrett agreed, saying this moment of Republican unity “accrues to Kemp’s benefit.”
“At the end of the day, Republicans are galvanizing around their core principles again. And that could supersede the personality politics,” he said.
“Trump went a long way to exacerbate the rifts, but what we’re seeing is more factions of the Republican Party are more concerned about losing than they are about anything else.”