Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday announced that he will campaign for Gov. Brian Kemp in his reelection bid in Georgia, breaking with former President Trump who has backed former Sen. David Perdue in the closely-watched primary.
Pence announced he will participate in a May 23 get-out-the-vote rally with Kemp before Georgia’s May 24 gubernatorial primary.
Pence said in a statement that Kemp is “my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia.”
Pence said in a statement obtained by the Journal-Constitution that Kemp is “dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia.”
The former vice president described Kemp as “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”
“He built a safer and stronger Georgia by cutting taxes, empowering parents and investing in teachers, funding law enforcement, and standing strong for the right to life,” Pence said in the statement. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”
The move from Pence comes as Kemp has been a continued target of Trump after refusing to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.
The former president, on Wednesday, released a statement criticizing Kemp and his supporters, saying “Today, the worst ‘election integrity’ Governor in the country, Brian Kemp, loaded the great state of Georgia up with RINOs,” an acronym that stands for “Republicans in name only.”
A number of other top Republican figures, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, have voiced their support for Kemp.
Pence previously broke with Trump on issues resulting from his 2020 election loss, saying “President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election,” after Trump falsely suggested that Pence was authorized to overturn the election results.
In the joint statement with Pence, Kemp praised the former vice president for his work with the Trump administration.
“The Vice President’s leadership was instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia, and his commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party,” Kemp said.
The Republican primary winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost a 2018 bid for the same office, in November. The Cook Political Report rates the Georgia race a toss up.
Updated at 8:24 a.m.