Why Isn't Brian Kemp the Post-Trump Republican Future?
The question answers itself.
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1. Why Not Kemp?
There’s a class of professional anti-anti-Trumpers who are desperately looking for the next Republican politician they can ride to glory. Don’t get me wrong: These guys will 100 percent support Trump
if when he’s the nominee in 2024. But for the time being, their career incentives revolve around hoping that Trump won’t run and telegraphing support for someone else.
You’ll occasionally hear one of them float the idea of Tim Scott or J.D. Vance. They’ve flirted with Glenn Youngkin, but the guy they’re really horny for is Ron DeSantis.
One name I don’t hear from the anti-antis: Brian Kemp.
By the numbers, if you were a True Conservative who hated all the Trump stuff and really wanted to move on in order to move back, then Kemp should be your guy.
He’s been a competent governor of a key swing state.
He holds more or less to all the traditional, pre-Trump conservative orthodoxies.
He’s poised to beat a Democratic superstar for the second time in a row. And this time by an even bigger margin.
He’s not one of those hapless Never Trump Republicans, like Larry Hogan or Charlie Baker. He’s a Real Republican!
What’s not to like?
And yet . . . the anti-anti-Trumpers have gotten publicly invested in Kemp’s success exactly twice.
The first time was after Kemp beat the Trump-backed David Perdue in the primary. The purpose of this was to use Kemp as a data point in their argument that "Trump’s Grip on the GOP Is Slipping!"1
The second time was when my colleague Amanda Carpenter pointed out that “Brian Kemp’s Running Mate Is a Fake Elector.” The anti-antis took great umbrage at this characterization and were outraged on Kemp’s behalf.2
But other than that? Kemp is just sort of . . . there. Quietly governing a state with a good economy, beating Stacey Abrams, and wondering why he isn’t the future of the post-Trump Republican party.
The answer isn’t all that complicated. What do Glenn Youngkin and Ron DeSantis have that Brian Kemp doesn’t?