Despite federal indictment, Donald Trump still headlining Georgia GOP convention

Georgia is once again the focus of the nation’s political attention, with this weekend’s state Republican convention.
The eyes of the nation’s political universe will be on Georgia this weekend, as former President Donald Trump makes his first official campaign appearance.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 11:30 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The eyes of the nation’s political universe will be on Georgia this weekend, as former President Donald Trump makes his first official campaign appearance in his quest to retake the White House that was announced late last year.

On Friday and Saturday, the Georgia Republican Party will be hosting its annual convention, this time in Columbus. Trump will be headlining the convention on Saturday, while former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will speak Friday.

Trump is still scheduled to speak despite his 37-count federal indictment alleging mishandling sensitive information and accusations he willfully defying Justice Department demands to return documents he had taken from the White House.

Gov. Brian Kemp will not be in attendance, but Lt. Gov. Burt Jones - whom Trump supported in his 2022 bid to win the vacant seat - will be. Jones is widely regarded to be a gubernatorial candidate in 2026 when Kemp, who is two term-limited, steps down.

On Wednesday, former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce his 2024 White House bid. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is also expected to announce his announce his candidacy this week.

Pence and Christie are joining a very crowded field of Republicans seeking to reclaim the Oval Office in 2024. Also running for the GOP nomination are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and biotech entrepreneur activist Vivek Ramaswamy.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will also join the race when he announces on June 7 in Fargo.

This is the first time Trump has spoken in Georgia since his reelection announcement back in November, after which came an immediate endorsement from U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is also speaking at this year’s convention.

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Kemp has urged other Republican donors, party leaders, and voters not to “look in the rearview mirror” as the 2024 presidential election nears, a veiled reference to Trump.

In late April, Kemp, as reported by CNN, told donors at a private GOP retreat in Nashville “Not a single swing voter in a single swing state will vote for our nominee if they choose to talk about the 2020 election being stolen.”

Kemp has also been keeping an active political schedule, speaking last month at the Republican National Committee’s annual meeting, and at a donor retreat in Sea Island, Georgia last week where he told reporters that a presidential run would be up to him and his family. He’s also set to appear at a speaking event in New York later this week.

Kemp was challenged last year in his re-election bid by Democrat Stacey Abrams, once considered one of her Democratic Party’s rising stars. The two faced each other in 2018 in a campaign for Georgia’s then-open governor’s seat, and Abrams lost by only a few thousand votes.

But last year, Kemp handily defeated Abrams and continued a statewide contingent of Republicans again occupying every statewide elected office.

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