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Battleground Georgia tests Trump's US voter fraud 'Big Lie'

By AFP - May 24,2022 - Last updated at May 24,2022

ATLANTA — Republican voters appeared set on Tuesday to deliver a stark repudiation of Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 US election was stolen as the swing state of Georgia picked its candidates for November's midterms.

Five states were holding nominating contests for congressional elections that will decide which party controls the US Senate and House of Representatives for the remainder of President Joe Biden's first term.

But all eyes are on the Peach State, where wounds from the 2020 presidential election are still festering two years after Trump lost there by the narrowest of margins.

A record-smashing 850,000 ballots were cast in early voting that ended on Friday, in a signal of an electorate determined to have its say despite complaints over new laws that critics warn are making it harder to vote.

"It's really important," government consultant Che Alexander told AFP after filling out her voting slip at a downtown Atlanta polling station.

"I'm going to post on my social media now, how important it is to vote, because if you don't have an opinion, there's no reason to complain, right?"

Up and down the ballot, the Republican side of the Georgia primary pits candidates peddling the former president's false claims of widespread election fraud against hopefuls who pushed back in defense of the Constitution.

In the contest to be the next governor, incumbent Brian Kemp, frequently the target of Trump's wrath for refusing to help overturn the election, leads former senator David Perdue by more than 20 points.

Perdue has made bogus claims about 2020 a centerpiece of his campaign, in a direct appeal to Trump supporters who continue wrongly to question the validity of the outcome.

Trump, who banked much of his own political capital in the race, faces humiliation if Kemp's lead holds — undermining his push to make his nationwide endorsements a sign of his continuing sway over the party.

 

'Inelegant delivery' 

 

After sinking $2.5 million of his own campaign funds into the Perdue effort, the former president appeared largely to have given up on the candidate, offering only a written 11th-hour statement of endorsement rather than visiting the state in person during the home stretch.

Kemp's confidence in victory over his imploding opponent was apparent on Monday at a rally in Cobb County with former vice president Mike Pence, where neither man mentioned Perdue once.

"I was for Brian Kemp before it was cool," Pence told a cheering crowd of a few hundred at an airfield on the outskirts of Atlanta.

Pence's support for a candidate Trump reviles marks a high-profile clash between the former president and his White House wingman, underscoring the party's internal tug of war over its future direction.

The race to be Georgia's secretary of state is seen as equally consequential, as these are the officials who oversee elections in the United States.

Democrats fear that, across the country, Trump will be able to install loyalists who can weaponise specious fraud accusations from 2020 to make it harder for his opponents to vote in 2024.

As the man responsible for certifying Georgia's 2020 election results, Brad Raffensperger was in lockstep with Kemp in pushing back against Trump.

He faces Jody Hice, one of more than a dozen Trump-backed candidates across America bidding to become secretary of state and professing to believe the 2020 election was stolen.

Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 to win Georgia, while Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff triumphed in runoff elections in January 2021 that wrested control of the US Senate from Republicans.

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