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Trump endorses Brian Kemp in governor's race
President wades into Georgia politics, picking secretary of state for runoff
Kemp, Edwards Talk
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, left, and Newton County Commissioner Stan Edwards talk Friday afternoon, March 2, 2018, during a stop by Kemp's campaign for governor at Legion Field in Covington, Ga. - photo by Darryl Welch

President Donald Trump waded into Georgia’s contentious Republican runoff for governor with a tweet endorsing Brian Kemp.

Trump wrote that Kemp, the two-term secretary of state, “is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration.”

The president also said Kemp supports the military and veterans and would protect the Second Amendment.

Kemp, 55, of Athens, is in a bitter battle with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination. The runoff will be Tuesday, and on-site early voting ends Friday.

Cagle, 52, of Gainesville, led a five-man field in the May primary but couldn’t avoid a runoff. Kemp led a recent poll of likely voters conducted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB Channel 2 Action News with 44 percent support to Cagle’s 41 percent, within the poll’s margin of error. The poll showed 15 percent of likely voters remained undecided.

Gov. Nathan Deal, also of Gainesville, is term-limited. He endorsed Cagle on Monday.

Deal cited Cagle’s help as president of the Senate in passing legislation.

“My concern is, let’s not undo or transform in a negative fashion the good reforms that have been put in place,” Deal said. “For that reason, I believe that Casey Cagle will be the best candidate for that position as the next governor of our state.”

Cagle is scheduled to be in Newton County on Thursday. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the dedication of the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center dining hall in honor of state Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa.

The winner of next week’s runoff will face Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, 44, a former state House minority leader, in the Nov. 6 general election.