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Giuliani backs Republican challenger to Georgia governor

June 30, 2021 GMT
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Rudy Giuliani endorses GOP candidate Vernon Jones for Governor of Georgia during a press conference Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)
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Rudy Giuliani endorses GOP candidate Vernon Jones for Governor of Georgia during a press conference Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

ATLANTA (AP) — Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is endorsing a Democrat-turned-Republican who’s challenging Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the state’s 2022 Republican primary.

Giuliani spoke to reporters Wednesday before headlining a fundraising dinner for former state Rep. Vernon Jones in Atlanta.

Jones was on the outs with his party when he shot to prominence in Republican circles as an African American Democrat who endorsed Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Jones has since switched parties and doubled down in support of Trump’s false claims of election fraud, appealing to Republican voters in Georgia who might be unhappy with Kemp. Trump has repeatedly attacked Kemp but has not so far endorsed Jones.

Giuliani said his main reason for endorsing Jones was their shared belief that then-President Trump was cheated out of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes and the overall election.

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“The current governor has been a failure. I mean, he’s had his time. He put together an election that wouldn’t have passed muster in Africa, Asia, in undeveloped countries,” Giuliani said.

An state appeals court suspended Giuliani from practicing law in New York last week because he made false statements while trying to get courts to overturn Trump’s loss in the presidential race. Elected mayor on the strength of his record as a federal prosecutor, Giuliani said Wednesday that the judges who suspended his license ruled out of fear of political retribution from Democrats.

Kemp is Georgia’s former secretary of state, but had little role in 2020′s election administration besides certifying results showing that Biden had won. Kemp this year signed and has championed an election law that Democrats have attacked as discriminatory, but Jones contends Kemp should have done more, including calling a special session to try to block Georgia’s electoral votes from going to Biden.

Jones has also been supported by former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik. Trump pardoned Kerik after Kerik pleaded guilty to tax fraud and false statement charges years earlier and served prison time. Jones said Wednesday that Kerik, who attended the news conference, is serving as a law enforcement adviser to Jones’ campaign.

Jones, 60, served multiple terms in the Georgia House, sandwiching a troubled turn as elected leader of Atlanta’s suburban DeKalb County.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.