A Georgia Democratic lawmaker has decided to back President Donald Trump’s 2020 bid for reelection despite his Democratic counterparts rallying around former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign.
On Tuesday, April 14, Rep. Vernon Jones became Georgia’s first state-elected Democrat to endorse Trump, a Republican, in his bid for a second term.
Jones, former chief executive officer of DeKalb County, said he doesn’t plan to switch parties, but admires some of Trump’s political stances. He cited Trump’s handling of the economy along with his support for historically black colleges, and criminal justice initiatives as reasons for his decision to endorse his campaign.
“There are a lot of African Americans who clearly see and appreciate he’s doing something that’s never been done before,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When you look at the unemployment rates among black Americans before the pandemic, they were at historic lows. That’s just a fact,” Jones added.
In an interview with WGCL-TV (CBS 46), he referred to Trump as the “leader our country needed. A generation of African American families have been devastated by draconian policies that Joe Biden supported and voted for when he served in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “A change was needed and President Trump took action.”
Brandon Phillips, a Republican operative and former chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign in Georgia, was delighted with Jones’ decision — one he says Jones had mulled over for years.
“Vernon has been a Trump fan for a while,” Phillips said. “Glad to see him putting Georgia first over party.”
But top House Democrats were not so impressed. Many disagreed with and expressed feelings of betrayal by Jones, who over the years, has proved a controversial figure in politics who has faced backlash from both colleagues and constituents over his decisions.
“We’re not sure what was on Vernon’s mind. It’s antithetical to what we believe in,” state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, the chairman of the party’s House caucus told the Atlanta newspaper. “We can’t support an ideology that’s diametrically opposed to who we are and what we value.”
State Rep. Scott Holcomb, a DeKalb Democrat who represents District 81, was not so surprised.
“They’re both incompetent narcissists,” he told the Journal-Constitution. “This isn’t surprising.”
State Sen. Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, called Jones an “embarrassment to the Democratic Party” who “doesn’t stand for our values.”
“He made that clear today by choosing to stand with a racist president who has made an all-out assault on Black Americans and has tried to rip away our health care,” she tweeted Tuesday, April 14.
House Minority Leader Bob Trammell responded by making plans to endorse Rhonda Taylor, Jones’ challenger for the June primary. He said he would be “sending Taylor a check immediately,” according to the Journal-Constitution.
He confirmed his intent tweeting “Proud to endorse @rhondataylorga for House District 91 today. Always ready to fight for Democrats who will fight for us,” Tuesday afternoon.
Jones began his political career in the Georgia House in the early 1990s. He moved on to serve as DeKalb County’s top executive after winning his first two terms in 2000.
His career in politics came to a standstill in 2013 following an investigation into allegations of bid-rigging and theft.
Jones, who has had unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, regained office as a state representative in the House in 2016 and has since allied himself with Republicans in legislative positions.