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Georgia Governor’s Race Puts State at Center of 2022 Political Drama

Both Mr. Walker and Mr. Hice have parroted Mr. Trump’s false claim that election fraud cost him the 2020 election.

And Mr. Perdue did not limit his own attack to Mr. Kemp. Republicans were disunited in Georgia, he said, “and Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger are to blame.”

The influence of Mr. Trump, who has not ruled out another presidential run in 2024, is bound to be felt in other states’ midterm races. But Mr. Trump has been particularly fixated on Georgia, a state he lost by fewer than 12,000 votes. He and some of his allies are being investigated by the Fulton County district attorney’s office for potential criminal violations after reaching out to state officials, including Mr. Kemp and Mr. Raffensperger, in an effort to change the election results.

If Mr. Perdue and Mr. Walker lead the Republican ticket next fall, Georgia voters will be forced to choose between revulsion for Mr. Trump and his incendiary politics, on the one hand, and, on the other, dissatisfaction with Mr. Biden and unease with the liberal politics that Ms. Abrams and Mr. Warnock embody.

The drama will unfold in a state that, with its gaping divides along the lines of race, class and region, mirrors the nation and its partisan, polarized and increasingly poisonous politics.

Georgia also reflects broader trends among the two national parties. Democrats are increasingly turning to more diverse candidates. But the candidates are still stepping gingerly, as Ms. Abrams did in her launch video by trumpeting the idea of “one Georgia,” and seeking to elevate unifying issues that can appeal to die-hard liberals and fickle suburbanites alike.

Some Democrats fear that Ms. Abrams, a veteran state legislator and voting-rights advocate, may face an uphill climb in the governor’s race given the challenges confronting the party nationally: an unpopular president, inflation, Covid-19, and simmering concerns over violent crime and how American history is taught in schools.

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