Republican Party officials in two deeply conservative counties voted to censure Gov. Brian Kemp and two other top party leaders in recent days, a sign that the Georgia governor continues to face grass-roots opposition from loyalists to former President Donald J. Trump, and the possibility of a primary challenge next year.
In Whitfield county, in the northwest corner of the state, Republican officials unanimously voted to condemn Mr. Kemp, saying he “did nothing” to help Mr. Trump after the November election.
“Because of Kemp’s betrayal of President Trump and his high unpopularity with the Trump GOP base, Kemp could end up costing the GOP the governor’s mansion because many Trump supporters have pledged not to vote for Kemp under any circumstances,” reads the resolution, which was adopted by acclimation.
A similar resolution was adopted in Murray County, also in northern Georgia, by a nearly unanimous vote. It was opposed by only three of the dozens of members in attendance. Both counties also voted to censure Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
The resolutions hold no binding power over elected officials. Rather, party officials say their resolutions were intended to send a message to Mr. Kemp and other Republican lawmakers that their jobs may be in jeopardy.
“I’d vote for Mickey Mouse before I would Kemp,” said Tony Abernathy, chairman of the Murray County Republican Party. “I know what I’ve got with Mickey Mouse. A RINO is useless.” RINO is the dismissive acronym for Republican in Name Only.
After infuriating Mr. Trump by resisting his demands to overturn the state’s election results, Mr. Kemp has faced months of attacks, protests and opposition from his party’s base. Conservatives like Mr. Abernathy were particularly frustrated by Mr. Kemp’s refusal to call an election-focused special session of the state House to further probe the results. Mr. Trump has encouraged Republicans to retaliate by sending a hard-right loyalist to oppose Mr. Kemp in the primary next year.
Mr. Kemp and his aides saw a path to redemption within the party in the controversial election bill that the legislature passed last month, which the governor has forcefully defended in dozens of public appearances even as the new law adds new limits to the right to vote in Georgia.
Other resolutions adopted by the counties supported a bill passed in the Republican-controlled Statehouse stripping Delta of a $35 million jet fuel tax break and urged Georgians to boycott Major League Baseball and “woke companies” that criticized the election law.
“The Republican grass roots are angry,” said Debbie Dooley, a conservative activist, who helped distribute drafts of the resolutions and encouraged Trump supporters to attend the local meetings. “These resolutions will let Gov. Kemp, Lt. Gov. Duncan and Secretary of State Raffensperger know we’re going to work against them in the Republican primary next year.”