Patrick Graham is the owner of The Walton Tribune, The Covington News, The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville, Alabama), Times-Journal (Fort Payne, Alabama) and Jackson County Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama). He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

And just like that, the runoff to determine the Republican nominee for governor was over.

The race between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been nip and tuck in the weeks leading up to the Tuesday runoff. Although Cagle has been the frontrunner since he comfortably led the Republican primary in May, Kemp has been closing the gap ever since. 

On Wednesday, Kemp got what he needed to not just catch Cagle, but blow past him.

President Donald Trump weighed in on the Republican race for governor in Georgia and gave Kemp his “full and total endorsement.”

“Brian Kemp is running for Governor of the great state of Georgia. The Primary is on Tuesday. Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement,” President Trump tweeted from his official Donald J. Trump account.

Lest any of you wonder whether or not the president’s account may have been hacked or this could be fake news, have no fear. The president has dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to appear with Kemp at a campaign rally in Macon today, and that wouldn’t be happening if President Trump wasn’t fully on board with the Kemp candidacy.

The president recognizes, as I do, that Kemp represents the best chance for beating the Democrat nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, in the general election. National Democrats are going to flood Abrams’ campaign with out-of-state money, and the Republicans are going to have to offer someone who is in stark contrast to the Democratic nominee, and Kemp is most certainly that candidate.

His conservative country boy, shotgun-toting-father-of-three-girls ad campaign has resonated with voters in the state, and he’s going to need to keep up a similar profile if he intends to prevail in the general election.

I didn’t need President Trump’s endorsement to know Kemp was going to get my vote. His values more closely align with mine and with Walton County’s, which is why I voted for him in the Republican primary and will do so in the runoff as well. If you didn’t take advantage of early voting and are still heading to the polls on Tuesday, I’d encourage you to do the same.

Still, receiving endorsements in the last week from the likes of the president, the Dooley family, former Republican candidates for governor Hunter Hill and Clay Tippins, and conservative talk show host Neal Boortz certainly didn’t hurt him any.

Cagle, on the other hand, won’t recover.

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