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Image: Vernon Jones, R-Ga. at a rally on Sept. 25, 2021 in Perry, Ga.
Vernon Jones, R-Ga. at a rally on Sept. 25, 2021 in Perry, Ga.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

Trump’s candidates continue to rack up losses in this state

Two more losses in Tuesday's primary runoffs are the latest in a string of defeats for Trump's backed candidates in one key state.

By and

The candidates endorsed by President Donald Trump have won many more races than they’ve lost so far this primary season.

But that’s not the case in Georgia, where two more Trump-backed candidates — Vernon Jones and Jake Evans — lost their intraparty contests on Tuesday.

Overall in 2022, Trump-endorsed candidates have gone a whopping 133-11, according to an NBC News review of Trump’s endorsement record. And among the races NBC News has deemed competitive (taking out those where there’s little to no opposition), it adds up to 21 wins and 11 losses for Trump’s candidates. 

Yet in Georgia, Trump’s record is 2-6 in competitive races. 

The losses in the Peach State started in last month’s May 24 primary, when incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp easily defeated Trump’s hand-picked challenger, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue); when Trump’s candidate for secretary of state, Jody Hice, lost to incumbent Brad Raffensperger; and when Trump’s candidates for attorney general and insurance commissioner also lost. 

And the defeats continued on Tuesday, when Jones and Evans were routed in congressional runoffs in red-leaning districts. 

Trump’s only wins in Georgia’s competitive primaries have been his picks for U.S. Senate (Herschel Walker) and lieutenant governor (Burt Jones). 

Why the Trump struggles in Georgia? And not elsewhere? 

One theory is that the states that have given the former president the biggest fits — Georgia, South Carolina, even Alabama — are places where Trump’s past intervention in races has come back to hurt the state’s GOP. 

Take Georgia, where Trump’s complaints about his 2020 presidential loss in the state spilled over into the Jan. 2021 Senate runoffs, which Democrats won and as a result took control of the U.S. Senate. 

Or take South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, where the Trump-backed Katie Arrington lost last week to incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. Recall: In 2018, Trump endorsed Arrington over former GOP incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford; Arrington won that primary but lost the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham. But it was Mace who defeated Cunningham two years later. 

Or even take Alabama, where Trump in 2017 first endorsed Luther Strange for U.S. Senate (who lost to Roy Moore), and then endorsed Moore (who lost to Democrat Doug Jones). And in this cycle, Trump first endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks for Senate, then he rescinded that endorsement — before backing eventual GOP winner Katie Britt.

This isn't the final story in Georgia, which will be home to key statewide and downballot races in the fall. And one key dynamic to keep an eye on will be whether some of these bitterly contested GOP primaries will hurt the party in November.