Former President Donald Trump is expected to cast a long shadow over the midterm elections, but his increasing involvement in the Senate and gubernatorial races in Georgia, a state he narrowly lost in 2020, is raising questions about how helpful he will be to Republicans.

Trump held a fundraiser for his longtime political ally, Herschel Walker, at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday, where he heaped praise on the former University of Georgia football star running against Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022.


Throughout his speech, Trump touted Walker as the "key" to Republicans taking back the Senate majority but also listed his usual gripes about the results of the 2020 general election.

That same night, however, Trump released a statement welcoming Democrat Stacey Abrams into the Georgia governor's race. Abrams, who herself refused to concede based on claims of fraud in the 2018 gubernatorial election, announced her bid to challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022. Trump has frequently propped her up as a means of criticizing Kemp for failing to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

"Stacey 'The Hoax' Abrams has just announced that she’s running for Governor of Georgia. I beat her single-handedly, without much of a candidate, in 2018. I’ll beat her again, but it will be hard to do with Brian Kemp," Trump wrote in the statement. "The MAGA base will just not vote for him after what he did with respect to Election Integrity and two horribly run elections, for President and then two Senate seats. But some good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and some good Republican will WIN!"

Early polling shows Walker, not former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, as Republicans' top chance at unseating Warnock, and Trump's influence could boost GOP turnout in November 2022. Party officials largely attribute Trump and his allies' attacks against sitting Republicans responsible for running elections to Warnocks' victory over Loeffler in the January 2021 runoff. Still, some party officials view Trump's penchant for splitting the primary field as potentially detrimental down the line.

"United we win, divided we lose," former Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston previously told the Washington Examiner.

"This is eerily similar to what we saw play out in the runoff," a veteran Republican campaign operative also told the Washington Examiner. "Trump's out, but his base support in states like Georgia is as solid as ever. If Trump told them to, I'd bet these people might even vote for [Abrams] just to spite Kemp. What they don't realize is that the state is changing. Metro Atlanta is much more liberal than it was even two cycles ago, and local politicians like Kemp are what's standing in the way of Georgia becoming the next New York or California."

Kemp currently leads Abrams in RealClearPolitics polling average, but should Trump formally endorse a primary challenger, the incumbent Republican might not even make it to November. Former State House Rep. Vernon Jones, a former Democrat turned staunch Trump loyalist, has already declared his candidacy for governor. A new poll from Trafalgar found that former Sen. David Perdue, another Trump loyalist who has not yet declared his candidacy, would likely surge ahead of Kemp should he enter the race and earn Trump's endorsement.

The former president's Georgia posturing comes as he tests the waters for his own political comeback in 2024.

Trump's post-White House super PAC, Make America Great Again, Again, recently commissioned a head-to-head poll pitting him against his successor, President Joe Biden. The poll showed Trump besting Biden in a number of states that were critical to the latter's 2020 victory, including Georgia.

"There's nothing President Trump loves more than winning, and there's nothing he hates more than losing," one senior Republican official previously said of the findings in MAGAA's poll in a statement to the Washington Examiner. "2020 was a major blow to his confidence, but a couple months in South Florida, combined with the absolute disaster that is the Biden presidency, are making it clearer by the day that the 'Trump 2024' announcement is more a question of 'when' than 'if.'"

That same official told the Washington Examiner on Thursday, however, that Trump's 2022 bets on Walker and "anyone other than Kemp" would be a similar barometer for a 2024 run.


"If both of his guys win, he'll definitely run — maybe even if it's just Herschel," that person explained. "But two more losses could also convince him not to reenter the field and open himself up to potential embarrassment on the national stage."