Amy Kremer helped organize the pro-Trump Jan. 6 rally. Now she is seeking a Georgia seat on the RNC

“Hello, deplorables,” she said, embracing a label Hillary Clinton once lobbed against Trump’s followers.

As Trump seeks a return to the White House, Kremer is trying to win one of two Georgia seats on the Republican National Committee. The votes at a state party convention Saturday are expected to show how consumed by the 2020 election the GOP remains in Georgia and everywhere else.

Kremer argues the RNC hasn’t done enough to fight for Trump or protect others who fought for him, like the 16 Georgia Republicans who falsely claimed to be valid Trump electors in a state Joe Biden won.

“It’s not enough to just espouse conservatism anymore,” Kremer told a party group on April 24. “We have to stand up and fight. And the RNC has not done it.”

But like many other state parties, Georgia’s GOP has splintered. Gov. Brian Kemp created a rival fundraising and political operation after Trump attacked him for backing the 2020 election results. The fracture deepened when some party leaders supported former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s unsuccessful, Trump-backed challenge to Kemp in 2022. Neither Kemp nor his allies will attend the convention.

Some Kemp supporters disdain the state party as irrelevant, saying Republican elected officials better reflect the views of all Georgia Republicans. But the party remains a training ground for future candidates, Kemp will only be governor until January 2027 and Georgia’s majority-Republican legislature continues to translate activist demands into law.

“You can’t dismiss it,” said Jason Shepherd, a former GOP chairman in suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County who has exited state party affairs because of his disagreements with Trump supporters.

State convention delegates will choose one man and one woman to the national party’s governing body on Saturday in Columbus. It’s not as if the incumbents seeking reelection are Trump critics. Jason Thompson and Ginger Howard trumpet their allegiances. Thompson, an attorney, was among the lawyers who helped Trump ask courts for recounts and favorable treatment after Election Day in 2020.

Thompson and Howard are both calling for the national party to repay the state party more than $1.5 million it has spent defending the 16 fake Trump electors. Three have been indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, while others reached immunity deals to testify for prosecutors.

But they also warn that Georgia Republicans need experienced leaders who can obtain resources to win the November election in a battleground where wins by Biden and two Democratic U.S. senators have shaken a generation of Republican control.

“There’s more to the RNC than just the election integrity part,” Thompson said April 24. “Obviously, I think that’s the most important part, especially right now. But you also have to have somebody that can raise money.”

Howard is under fire, basically, for being insufficiently confrontational.

“Don’t mistake my sweetness for weakness. I’m a fighter,” Howard said.

Josh McKoon, a former lawmaker elected last year as chair, has tried to dampen some conflicts. He explicitly endorsed Howard at the April 24 meeting, saying she’s doing an “excellent job.”

Thompson is being attacked by opponents for work done by his wife and daughter for Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is despised by Trump and party activists for his defense of Georgia’s 2020 results.

“It’s the appearance of being associated with the devil himself and that’s Brad Raffensperger,” one activist told Thompson last month.

Thompson says neither his wife nor daughter have anything to do with how Raffensperger runs elections, calling it “ridiculousness” to imply his family benefits from Georgia’s use of Dominion Voting Systems ballot-marking devices. Many Republicans demand Georgia use ballots marked and counted by hand, citing distrust of machines fanned by conservatives.

Thompson’s challengers include party Second Vice-Chairman David Cross and Jason Frazier, who was denied a Republican place on Fulton County’s election board because Frazier has challenged the eligibility of thousands of voters.

Cross is among a group of anti-establishment officers elected last year. Cross supported retaining First Vice-Chairman Brian K. Pritchard, who was removed on May 10 by the state Republican Committee after a judge found Pritchard voted illegally nine times. Many Republicans viewed the findings as undercutting their arguments that the state must prevent fraudulent voting.

Cross argues the current leaders aren’t representing what Republicans want, saying pro-Trump forces need to complete their takeover.

“One of the major issues that we need to be dealing right now is grassroots engagement,” Cross told party members Monday in Forsyth County, a Republican stronghold north of Atlanta. “There are a lot of people out there who are severely demoralized.”

Frazier argues his experience scrutinizing voter rolls is an asset the RNC needs. Even as the party has been slow to invest in voter outreach, it has pledged a 100,000-person election-integrity program. Thompson claims partial credit, promising there will be lawyers “everywhere” to challenge Democrats, but Frazier says it’s not enough.

“Election integrity needs to be one of the top, if not the top, issue if we’re going to win in future elections,” Frazier said April 24. “It has not been a top priority in the past. It has to be.”

Besides Kremer, Shawn Cross is also challenging Howard. The wife of David Cross said Monday that her lack of experience is a strength.

“It takes more people to stand up and not just vote. Voting is not enough,” Shawn Cross said. “The system is rigged, we all know it’s rigged.”

It’s that sense of grievance and desire for confrontation that all the challengers are counting on.

“We never went to the Capitol,” Kremer said on April 24. “We didn’t tell people to go to the Capitol. But the thing was, the people wanted to do something. So people marched to the Capitol. And we all know what’s happened since then. The federal government has been weaponized against us.”

Associated Press writer Bill Barrow contributed to this report.

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