Donald Trump Jr. aides launch super PAC as Georgia worries mount
Advisers to Donald Trump Jr. are launching a super PAC to prod the president’s supporters to vote in the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs, as Republicans grow concerned that Trump’s backers will boycott the elections.
The group, Save the U.S. Senate PAC, will this week start airing commercials featuring Trump Jr. that are aimed at mobilizing Trump backers across Georgia. A person familiar with the plans said it would be the first in a series of commercials spotlighting Donald Trump Jr. ahead of the of the Jan. 5 vote, which will decide control of the Senate.
The super PAC will air its ads only on conservative radio and TV stations to reach Trump loyalists. The organization is investing six figures to run the first ads on radio stations statewide, and later this week it will begin cutting TV and digital commercials with the younger Trump.
Senior Republicans are alarmed that Donald Trump’s accusations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere, which he has not substantiated, will have the unintended side effect of discouraging his voters from turning out in the runoffs.
The idea of a boycott has recently caught fire online, where Trump supporters have accused Georgia’s Republican senators up for election, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, of not doing enough to intervene in the state’s ballot counting. Hashtags like #CrookedKelly and #CrookedPerdue have begun to pop up on social media, and some Trump backers have called for voters to write in the president’s name.
Super PAC organizers hope to extinguish such talk.
“There is a critical role that must be played in both Georgia Senate runoffs: turning out the Trump vote. We know from past midterms and special elections that the Trump voter is not guaranteed to every Republican candidate, which is why it’s vital to directly engage these voters and not take them for granted,” said Andy Surabian, a Donald Trump Jr. adviser who is helping to steer the new super PAC.
“To that end, we are launching an aggressive campaign in support of the two Republican candidates, focused on energizing and turning out Trump supporters, using television, radio and digital ads featuring Donald Trump Jr.,” Surabian added.
With just a little over a month until the runoffs, party leaders are racing to address the problem. During a Saturday appearance in Marietta, Ga., Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel got into a back-and-forth with Trump supporters who told her they saw little reason to vote in January because in their view the races had already been “decided” in the Democrats’ favor.
According to CNN, McDaniel responded that “it’s not decided. This is the key — it’s not decided.”
“If you lose your faith and you don’t vote and people walk away — that will decide it,” McDaniel added, saying that “we’ve got to focus on Jan. 5 right now” and address concerns about voter fraud later on.
Other members of Trump’s inner circle have also sounded the alarm. Agriculture Secretary and ex-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has privately raised concerns that the ongoing focus on voter fraud could depress turnout, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
The president himself has tried to rebuff the burgeoning boycott movement. Trump took to Twitter earlier this week to announce that he would be campaigning in Georgia on Dec. 5.
“No, the 2020 Election was a total scam, we won by a lot (and will hopefully turn over the fraudulent result), but we must get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people. Otherwise we are playing right into the hands of some very sick people,” he wrote.
But the president has undercut his message repeatedly, going after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom he has accused of not doing enough to push his voter fraud theories. During a Sunday morning appearance on Fox Business, the president said Kemp had “done absolutely nothing” and that he was “ashamed” that he’d endorsed the governor in his 2018 election. (Trump also endorsed Raffensperger in 2018.)
Lawyers supporting Trump have also spurred on the boycott push. Georgia-based attorney Lin Wood has repeatedly bashed Loeffler and David Perdue on Twitter and recently urged Trump backers to “threaten to withhold your votes & money” until the senators become more vocal about voter fraud.
Trump has received appeals from a range of party leaders to visit Georgia, where polling data shows the Republicans in tight races with Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. David Perdue urged the president to campaign sooner rather than later and played a key role in getting a commitment, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
But Trump aides say the president needed little convincing. Georgia, they point out, is one of the few states where both senators are close with the president.
Vice President Mike Pence is slated to make his second trip to Georgia on Friday, where he’ll hold a rally in Savannah. Republican officials say they expect the vice president to be a frequent visitor to the state.
Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, took to Twitter last week to implore supporters to “IGNORE” calls to sit out on the runoff, harnessing his wide conservative following to try to dampen talk of a boycott.
The new super PAC is likely to intensify talk that Trump Jr. is interested in pursuing a 2024 presidential bid. But people close to the first son say he’s more interested in playing a kingmaker role in the Republican Party and using his social media presence to advocate for favored candidates. He is expected to be heavily involved in the 2022 midterm elections.
Save the U.S. Senate PAC is being overseen by Surabian and Taylor Budowich, aides to Trump Jr. who were senior advisers to the Trump reelection effort. The group’s ads are being produced by Jamestown Associates, which also made commercials for the president’s campaign.
Republican leaders said they welcomed the help.
“Donald Trump Jr. has been incredibly helpful all cycle, and he’s been particularly helpful calling out bad actors looking to mislead Georgia voters,” said Jesse Hunt, a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman.