It’s the first time the Senate Leadership Fund, which has spent more than $230 million on publicity this election cycle, has funded an effort to get people to vote on the ground. But the party has reason to invest heavily in Georgia’s turnout: Just two years ago, Republicans lost a majority in the Senate after falling in two rounds of voting in the state, partly because some GOP-aligned voters decided not to vote.
At the time, Trump was trying to overturn the results of the presidential vote in the state and questioned the legitimacy of the results.
Walker finished nearly a percentage point behind Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock when voting in the general election this week.
The second-round plan follows two days of discussions between the McConnell and Kemp teams. On Wednesday, after it became clear that neither Walker nor Warnock would meet the 50% threshold needed to avoid a Dec. 6 runoff, McConnell contacted Kemp and said he wanted his help.
The governor agreed. The next day, advisers to McConnell and Kemp hatched a plan.
“Governor. Kemp wrote the playbook on how to win big in Georgia, and we’re thrilled to join his top-notch team in electing Herschel Walker to the Senate,” said Steven Law, President of the Fund for the leadership of the Senate.” As we learned in 2020, Republican participation is essential for victory in a runoff election, and we are leaving no stone unturned – preparing a ground assault to partner in the war upcoming airline.”
Kemp’s involvement in the runoff reflects his rise in GOP circles following his reelection victory, with party figures increasingly seeing him as a force. Senior Republicans say they took a close look at how Kemp notched a nearly 52 percentage point primary victory over former GOP Sen. David Perdue – a nomination fight the governor won stifling Perdue’s campaign before it could fully take off. All the while, Kemp has withstood the searing attacks from Trump, who brutalized Kemp for certifying the results of Georgia’s 2020 election, which President Joe Biden narrowly won.
McConnell, who was also a frequent target of the former president, was among those following Kemp closely. After the governor’s victory in the May primaries, Kemp, his wife and campaign manager Bobby Saparow flew to Washington. During the trip, the two met McConnell and his political adviser Josh Holmes over breakfast in the Senate dining room.
In September, McConnell was listed as a “special guest” at a fundraiser for Kemp in Washington, which also attracted more than a dozen other Republican senators.
Those familiar with the arrangement noted that not only had the Senate Leadership Fund never conducted a canvassing operation before, but also had not partnered with the political operation of a acting governor.
Incumbent governors often outsource their voting incentive programs to state parties. But the unusual circumstances of Kemp’s re-election campaign led him to take a different approach.
The governor’s team set up its own apparatus, fearing that Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer was aligned with Perdue. During the primary, Kemp’s campaign spent nearly $3 million on voter education, which included a microtargeting and data analysis effort. Kemp then took the program to the general election after winning the primary, also using it to help Republican candidates run at the state level.
“Governor. Kemp has been able to build the best running game operation in the entire country this cycle,” Saparow said in a statement. “Our team stands ready to work with the SLF and Chief McConnell to ensure Herschel Walker is the next senator from Georgia and that the Republicans regain the majority in the Senate.”