Former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones loudly spurned his party and supported Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign. Then Jones turned around and cast a Democratic Party ballot in Georgia's presidential primary.
Public election records show that Jones, who is now a Republican candidate for Congress, used a Democratic ballot in the 2020 primary, meaning he couldn't have voted for Trump, who was on the Republican ballot.
As Trump arrives for a Saturday rally, Jones is trying to shake off his long history as a Democrat and prove himself in a crowded Republican field for the conservative 10th Congressional District that covers part of east Georgia.
Jones switched parties and won Trump's endorsement by dropping out of the race for governor and instead seeking a seat in Congress.
"Old habits die hard for carpetbagging Vernon Jones, who chose Democrats over Donald Trump," said Mike Collins, one of eight Republican candidates competing in the May 24 primary. "I had the courage to support Donald Trump and contribute to him every time he was on the ballot since 2016 — before it was politically expedient."
Jones didn't respond to an email and phone calls seeking comment Thursday.
Jones, who calls himself the "Black Donald Trump," backed the former president's reelection bid in April 2020, when he was still a Democrat in the state House of Representatives.
Then on election day for the presidential primary on June 9, election records show Jones cast a Democratic Party ballot when voting in person at his DeKalb County precinct.
Voters are guaranteed a secret ballot, so it's impossible to know which Democratic presidential candidate Jones voted for. But public records indicate which party's ballot a voter requested in a primary.
Georgia is an open primary state, meaning any voter can choose to vote on either party's primary ballot. Some voters cross party lines in primaries, either to support a specific candidate or participate in a more competitive race. In the 2020 Republican primary, Trump had no opponent, while there were 12 contenders for president in the Democratic primary.
Jones has pinned his hopes for election on Trump's endorsement.
"I've been a LOYAL & STRONG supporter of President Trump & the America First Movement & I'm not afraid to shout it from the roof-tops," Jones wrote Feb. 23 on Facebook. "The President needs fighters in Congress who can fight for America First values — not squishy establishment RINOs."
Jones will have to defend his Republican credentials against Collins and other more established members of the GOP who are in the race, including former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, state Rep. Timothy Barr and David Curry, the state's former revenue commissioner under Gov. Brian Kemp.
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