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Trump feud with Georgia governor reaches into campaign for insurance commissioner

Patrick Witt had been running for the House seat Hice is giving up

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a Jan. 4, 2021 rally in Dalton, Ga., a day before two Republican senators lost runoff elections that flipped Senate control to the Democrats.
US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a Jan. 4, 2021 rally in Dalton, Ga., a day before two Republican senators lost runoff elections that flipped Senate control to the Democrats. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

In a sign of how far former President Donald Trump’s feud with Georgia’s Republican governor will go, Trump has endorsed a Republican who dropped his bid for a House seat to challenge the governor-backed state insurance and fire safety commissioner.

The candidate, Patrick Witt, worked as an attorney on Trump’s post-election legal team in Georgia and served as deputy chief of staff and acting chief of staff in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during Trump’s administration. Witt is running against Republican incumbent John King, who was appointed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019.

Trump wants Kemp ousted because the governor did not support the former president’s false charges that fraud was rampant in the 2020 election. Trump lost Georgia by three-tenths of 1 percent, making President Joe Biden the first Democrat to carry the Peach State since Bill Clinton in 1992.

“Patrick Witt will make a strong Insurance Commissioner for the people of the Great State of Georgia,” Trump said in a March 11 statement, which Witt shared on Twitter. “Patrick was a Warrior for the America First Agenda in my Administration, and I know he will put Georgians First in this very important role.”

Witt “also fought for Election Integrity on my legal team in Georgia following the 2020 Presidential Election scam,” Trump continued.

Kemp refused to overturn election results, despite Trump’s urging. Trump has since endorsed former Sen. David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the Republican primary.

Witt was a standout quarterback at Yale University as an undergraduate and was briefly signed by the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in 2012. While at Yale, Witt was accused of sexual assault, which disqualified him from candidacy for a Rhodes Scholarship. According to his LinkedIn account, Witt graduated from Harvard Law School in 2017.

Before March 8, Witt was running for the Republican nomination in the open 10th District. In his announcement that he would run for the insurance post instead, Witt declared his support for Vernon Jones, who at Trump’s behest had dropped out of Georgia’s gubernatorial race in February to run for Congress, The Associated Press reported.

The House seat is open because incumbent Republican Jody B. Hice is challenging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another Republican who also attracted Trump’s ire for refusing to overturn the 2020 presidential election outcome.

Now, Witt will face King in a GOP primary election on May 24. Ben Cowart, a Republican real estate developer, has also qualified for the primary.

Three Democrats — state Rep. Matthew Wilson and insurance brokers Janice Laws Robinson and Raphael Baker — will compete in the Democratic primary, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

According to Witt’s LinkedIn profile, he worked for McKinsey & Company and Credit Suisse before joining the Trump administration. In his statement last week, Witt cited his experience managing OPM, which administers employee benefit programs for more than 2 million federal workers and their families and negotiates insurance rates for the “world’s largest employer-sponsored health benefits program.”

“America is in a precarious position,” Witt said in the statement. “Our freedom as individuals, our way of life as a people, and our future as a nation are all at stake. Recognizing the severity of the state we’re in is why I left my job in the private sector to serve under President Trump and to join in the effort to Make America Great Again.”

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