By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) – A candidate backed by President Donald Trump won a two-man Republican primary run-off for governor on Tuesday, a local media projection said, in a race that became a proxy battle between the president and the state’s popular Republican governor, Nathan Deal.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose hardline campaign approach dovetailed with Trump’s, was projected to defeat Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, who had the endorsement of Deal, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Kemp earned the president’s backing last week, a surprise endorsement that analysts said gave him an edge in a race between the two conservatives.
With about 33 percent of the votes reported, Kemp had a nearly two-to-one lead over Cagle, official results showed. Kemp had about 67 percent of the votes counted to Cagle’s 33 percent.
Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is vying to become the first black woman to serve as a U.S. state governor in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races in November’s midterm elections.
Trump carried Georgia by 5 percentage points in 2016.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)