COMMERCE, Ga. — President Donald Trump's stamp of approval was supposed to turn former Sen. David Perdue of Georgia into the favorite to beat incumbent Brian Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination here. The formula was simple: Trump hates Kemp for refusing to try to overturn the 2020 election results, Perdue is his hand-picked challenger and most Republican primary voters still love Trump. But things haven't worked out as planned for Perdue — at least not yet. With Trump set to arrive for a Saturday night rally here, and with less than two months left before the May 24 primary, Kemp leads Perdue by nine points in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls. "I’m a Trump guy, I’m a big Trump guy, I fully support Trump," former Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, said in a telephone interview. "But I’m not going to let Trump’s endorsement sway how I vote. And I think there’s a lot of people like that." For Trump, the stakes go far beyond flexing his muscles in yet another GOP primary. Georgia was ground zero in his failed quest to reverse his 2020 defeat. More important, he will want a loyal ally in the governor's office if he seeks the presidency again in 2024. That isn't reason enough to switch horses midstream for many voters in this state, especially with Democrat Stacey Abrams looming in the general election. "It's been divisive," Brenda Watkins, 77, a retired schoolteacher from nearby Madison County, said of Trump's push to oust the incumbent. Though she plans to support the Republican nominee in the fall, the conflict has "made it more likely" that Abrams will win, Watkins added. "I'm satisfied with the way Gov. Kemp has taken care of things," she said in explaining how she will vote. The challenge for Perdue, according to supporters of both candidates and longtime state political observers, is to show that Trump's fury over the 2020 election isn't the only reason to vote Kemp out. "It will be that plus," said former Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, who, like Westmoreland, hasn't made an endorsement. "It’s about the whole package, and that’s going to be the battle — both candidates know this — that’s going to be the battle for the next 60 days." To that end, Perdue has picked a handful of local issues on which to differentiate himself from Kemp. For example, Perdue has opposed a planned electric-car battery plant in this part of the state that Kemp is touting as a $5 billion, 7,500-job boon for economic development. Noting that billionaire and Republican bogeyman George Soros is invested in Rivian, the company behind the plant, Perdue has accused Kemp of giving away state incentives to benefit himself politically. Some residents are worried about the project's effects on their rural community. Likewise, Perdue backed a move by Buckhead, a wealthy section of Atlanta, to secede from the state's largest city. Kemp has remained neutral as the effort has stalled amid opposition from some business leaders and the Republican-led legislature. Ultimately, Perdue is portraying Kemp as a governor who uses his powers to benefit himself politically but refused to exercise them to help Trump and GOP voters following the 2020 election. Paula Dyer, 61, who operates an antiques store on Commerce's main drag, said she would either vote for Perdue or write in a candidate. "What I’m upset with Kemp for is he did not force an audit and all of that for the votes," Dyer said. "I don’t understand how all of a sudden Georgia has been predominantly Republican and then all of a sudden we’re going to go blue, we’re Democrat — with no proof of that." President Joe Biden defeated Trump by fewer than 12,000 vo . . . read the full article here.