ATLANTA — Former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones has branded himself as the “black Donald Trump” and is hoping his ties to the former president will help him edge out his competitors in one of Georgia’s most competitive House Republican primary elections.
The bombastic politician was on the outs with his then-party when in 2020, he rose to national prominence as one of the loudest black voices to endorse Trump’s reelection. Jones believes the ex-president’s widely sought-after endorsement will help curry enough favor with primary voters in the state’s 10th Congressional District to win the all-important GOP nomination for the heavily Republican seat stretching from the Atlanta exurbs to the South Carolina state line.
The 61-year-old was a Democratic state House member from 2017-2021 and chief executive officer of DeKalb County from 2001-2009. Running for Congress this year, Jones has built his campaign around debunked theories that the 2020 election was stolen by President Joe Biden. Jones has promised yet another audit of the election — Georgia has had three — if he is elected. Jones also promises to introduce articles of impeachment against Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on his first day in Congress for a “betrayal of public trust.”
Jones is running for the House seat now held by Rep. Jody Hice. Hice is leaving the east Georgia seat to run for secretary of state with Trump’s blessing.
Since entering the race, Jones has tackled controversial topics such as abortion and the LGBTQ community. He has claimed that being gay is a choice and recently told the Washington Examiner that liberals have “destroyed the black community.” Jones added that Planned Parenthood actively coerces black teenagers and women to get abortions.
Jones believes he represents conservative black voters taken for granted by Democrats.
“Now, it’s time for these black communities to destroy these liberals,” he said. “It horrifies them that I am waking up black people from that liberal, Democratic Party plantation and giving them an exit ramp.”
Like Hice, Jones was hand-picked by Trump as part of an effort to build a wall of candidates to take down Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who Trump blames for losing the presidential race. Jones had initially entered the race for governor but pulled out in February after Trump promised to endorse him in the congressional contests if he quit his statewide bid to clear the field for another Trump-picked candidate, former Sen. David Perdue.
Jones said Trump told him he could “kill two birds with one stone” by running in the congressional race, adding that if he won, he could help save Georgia and the country from left-leaning liberals. Being a card-carrying Republican member of Congress would also help the party be better prepared for the 2024 presidential election, Jones claimed.
Jones told the Washington Examiner he welcomed the change.
“It’s a bigger microphone, and being a congressman allows me not only to have a national platform but an international platform as we deal with issues from what’s going on over in Ukraine to what’s happening at our borders, and with our military men and women,” he said.
Jones’s campaign has come under attack in recent months, and like his political hero Trump, he has had his fair share of controversy and allegations of bad behavior.
Jones has been accused of threatening, intimidating, and harassing women. One woman claimed that on Dec. 28, 2004, he raped her. Jones has avoided criminal prosecution, and his political career has thrived since the incident.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed multiple criminal and civil complaints filed against Jones, and interviewed dozens of elected officials, activists, and lawyers who have had issues with him in the past. The investigation found numerous previously unreported details about Jones’ conduct toward women that spanned more than three decades.
When the Washington Examiner spoke to Jones, he denied all of the accusations and blamed liberals for trying to derail his congressional run.
“The allegations were false and baseless, and I was completely exonerated,” he said. “What the Left has attempted to do to me is the same thing they tried to do with President Trump, (Supreme Court Justices) Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas. When they can’t control you, they try to destroy you. I’m not backing down — ever.”
Georgia’s GOP primary election will be held on May 24. At an Atlanta Press Club debate earlier this month, the candidates discussed term limits, the economy, and social issues like Roe vs. Wade. However, much of the debate centered around Jones and challenger Mike Collins, a trucking executive and son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins. The younger Collins has been running as an unabashed pro-Trump supporter despite failing to secure an endorsement.
Collins said if he is elected he would stand up to “liberal left-wing wackos, RINOS, elites — and even the Republican establishment.”
Collins vowed to vote against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.) for speaker of the House if the GOP takes control in 2023. House Republicans need to net five seats in the 435-member chamber to win back the majority they lost in 2018.
Collins, who is leading his Republican challengers in fundraising, also said that “the time for compromise, the time for bipartisanship… is over with.”
For the eight Republicans trying to secure the 10th District nomination, the next week-and-a-half will be an all-out effort to reach as many constituents as possible.
Georgia election analysts told the Washington Examiner that they believe a runoff could be in the future for Jones and Collins. A runoff would be held on June 21.
For his part, Jones said he will spend every day visiting as many counties as possible to push one message: “I’ve been Trump-tested, Trump-vetted, and Trump-endorsed.”