COMMERCE, Ga. — Former President Donald Trump will try to put his stamp on the upcoming Georgia Republican primary in a rally Saturday in Banks County. Trump has been at war with Gov. Brian Kemp; the former president has allied himself with a slate of Republican candidates.
In 2020, Trump won with 89% of the vote in Banks County. The question two years later is how much influence will he have when he’s not on the ballot.
"I’ve been a big fan of his for fifteen, twenty years," Alan Kelly of Commerce told 11Alive outside the post office in downtown Commerce. Kelly liked Trump when he was a celebrity candidate in 2016 and liked him even better as president.
"And I’d love to have that again," Kelly said, adding he would "probably" vote for the Trump-endorsed candidates.
Kelly says he likes David Perdue, the Trump endorsed Republican challenging Gov. Brian Kemp in the May primary. And he likes Herschel Walker, the football star running for the US Senate with Trump’s backing.
But Trump is also weighing in on lesser known Georgia races, like Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and members of congress.
Rose Broome of Commerce is making plans to see Trump at his rally – the trappings of which are already visible from the road leading to the venue. Broome wants to see which Georgia candidates Trump is backing.
"He’s had a lot of influence for me. I like Trump," she said.
"Yeah I like Trump. But I like Kemp a lot too," said Gary Watson of Commerce.
Republican strategist Brian Robinson says this will test the former president’s clout.
"Trump's voice is still incredibly influential. It is important," said Robinson, who is working with some "non-Don" GOP candidates not backed by Trump. "The question in Georgia is whether that’s the only thing voters vote on when they vote in this primary in 2022."
Broome says the answer to that is easy.
"Yes, most definitely," adding that if Trump backs the candidate, "that's who I'm going to vote for, yes."
The biggest question for Republicans we met in Banks County is whether Trump himself will run again in 2024. Many here are keeping their fingers crossed.