ATLANTA — Former Democratic lawmaker and DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones announced Friday that he will run for governor of Georgia as a Republican and will face off with incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP Primary in 2022.
“On this historical day, I am planting my flag on the hallowed ground of the State Capitol,” Jones said during his announcement in Liberty Plaza. “I am officially announcing my candidacy for the Governor of the great state of Georgia.”
Jones switched to the Republican Party in January after making appearances at Trump presidential campaign rallies all through 2020. Trump often criticized Kemp at those rallies, partially blaming him for losing Georgia in the election, something many voting experts say wasn’t true.
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In a statement, the Kemp campaign wrote, “Vernon Jones is a lifelong Democrat. He is not a Republican, and he certainly is not a conservative. We look forward to contrasting Governor Kemp’s successful conservative record with Vernon Jones liberal…tenure in public life.”
Georgia Democrats also weighed in, “Georgia Republicans are headed for a messy, divisive primary and are already on record against helping Georgians.”
Though Jones often brought up his relationship with former President Trump during his campaign rally, as of Friday afternoon, there was no word from the former president’s office if he would endorse anyone in this race. When asked about a potential future endorsement, Jones artfully sidestepped the question.
“One thing about Donald Trump and Vernon Jones,” Jones said. “We understand each other.”