Trump-backed candidate wins Republican primary for Georgia governor: media

(Reuters) - A candidate backed by President Donald Trump won a two-man Republican primary run-off for governor on Tuesday, a local media projection said, in a race that became a proxy battle between the president and the state's popular Republican governor, Nathan Deal.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose hardline campaign approach dovetailed with Trump's, was projected to defeat Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who had the endorsement of Deal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Kemp earned the president's backing last week, a surprise endorsement that analysts said gave him an edge in a race between the two conservatives.

9 PHOTOS
Brian Kemp
See Gallery
Brian Kemp
FILE PHOTO: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp speaks with visitors to the state capitol about the "SEC primary" involving a group of southern states voting next month in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Letitia Stein/File Photo
Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp greet the crowd during a "Get Out The Vote" rally at the Dalton Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 in Dalton, Ga. Republican Brian Kemp is facing off against Democrat Stacey Abrams for governor in Georgia.(C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp waves to the crowd during a "Get Out The Vote" rally at the Dalton Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 in Dalton, Ga. Republican Brian Kemp is facing off against Democrat Stacey Abrams for governor in Georgia.(C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp waves to his supporters during a Get Out The Vote rally at Dalton Convention Center in Dalton on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Kemp is trying to extend the Republican domination in Georgia, which hasn't elected a Democrat as governor since 1998. He's banking on running up wide margins outside metro Atlanta and holding most of the GOP votes closer to the city. (Hyosub Shin /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Vice President Mike Pence and GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp wave to supporters at Dalton Convention Center in Dalton, Ga., on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Kemp is trying to extend the Republican domination in Georgia, which hasn't elected a Democrat as governor since 1998. He's banking on running up wide margins outside metro Atlanta and holding most of the GOP votes closer to the city. (Hyosub Shin /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
People hold up signs for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp during a rally at the Dalton Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Dalton, Ga. Kemp is facing off against Democrat Stacey Abrams for governor in Georgia. (C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Republican gubernatorial candidate for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, center, speaks as Democrat Stacey Abrams, left, and Libertarian Ted Metz look on during a debate Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool)
Georgia Pubic Service Commission Chairman Lauren "Bubba'" McDonald, left, sings as he stands on stage with Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle and Republican nominee for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, answers questions Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, during an appearance at a conference of the Georgia Economic Developers Association in Savannah, Ga. Kemp faces Democrat Stacey Abrams in the general election Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

With about 38 percent of the votes reported, Kemp had a nearly two-to-one lead over Cagle, official results showed. Kemp had about 68 percent of the votes counted to Cagle's 32 percent.

Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is vying to become the first black woman to serve as a U.S. state governor in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races in November's midterm elections.

Trump carried Georgia by 5 percentage points in 2016.

The Republican nominating race in Georgia was marked by fiercely negative campaigning.

In what became the first round of the Republican primary in May when no candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote, Cagle, 52, bested Kemp, 55, by 13 points to set up the top-two showdown. But Cagle came under fire in recent weeks after Kemp and the candidate who had finished fourth released secret recordings in which Cagle acknowledged supporting a bad policy for political reasons and said the primary appeared to be a contest to see who could be "craziest."

That last comment likely referred to Kemp's political advertisements, in which he jokingly threatened a teenage boy who wanted to date his daughter with a shotgun and promised to "round up" illegal immigrants in his truck.

Deal, who cannot run again due to term limits, endorsed Cagle last week, which was countered two days later when Trump posted his support for Kemp on Twitter.

Kemp tweeted a photo of Trump on Tuesday morning, saying he would "unapologetically stand" with the president. Cagle, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter, "We need a leader who is a bulldog for GA not a lapdog for D.C."

Both candidates have embraced Trump and have similar policy positions, including support for gun rights, lower taxes and tough anti-illegal immigration measures.

Read Full Story