Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said his decisive victory last week had everything to do with focusing on the concerns of Georgian voters and not getting stuck on past grievances, whether they come from there. former President Donald Trump, Stacey Abrams or companies that sought to punish Georgia last year for new state election laws.
“We just kept our heads down and continued to do what was right for Georgians and represent their views and values. And I’m not worried about outside noise – and I think they talked quite loudly last night,” Kemp said in an interview with the Washington Examiner.
Kemp said that’s what Georgians voted for last week: “They voted for this guy who was in the trenches and didn’t let outside noise bother him, his family, his team, or the legislature.”
The Athens native will take on author, activist and former state representative Stacey Abrams in the fall. Kemp beat Abrams four years ago in their first game. Abrams has yet to admit that she lost this election.
A day after a resounding defeat of fellow Republican David Perdue in the Georgia primary, Kemp said he was much more interested in sharpening the contrast between his accomplishments as governor and the activism and national ambition of the primary winner for the Democrats, Abrams, who openly ran as President Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate.
“We have to win in November, and I knew we couldn’t beat Stacey Abrams if I wasn’t the candidate. So we focused on my record as governor and the things I stood for. Donate priority to hard-working Georgians,” he added.
Kemp said he had a firm focus on putting Georgians first, even when Major League Baseball and corporate CEOs pulled their businesses out of the state after Democrats such as Biden and Abrams called repeatedly the new Georgia Jim Crow 2.0 election law and an example of voter suppression.
“We passed a good election bill with strong integrity measures, but also making it very accessible. And it was unreal to see people writing about the record turnout we have,” he said of the irony that the same news outlets that criticized the state’s new voting measure as restrictive or repressive found themselves reporting last week that early voting had nearly tripled the level of Georgia in 2018.
Kemp said someone tweeted him on Election Day jokingly expressing outrage that it took five minutes to vote and they had no food or water to do so.
“It’s the madness that I think people are really sick of. They’re sick of people lying to them, they’re sick of them playing these political games. We’ve been through some tough times over the two years, and I think people are realizing now, look, we need strong, serious leaders who are going to shoot straight with them. Voters don’t expect us to be perfect, they just want us to cut drink for them every day,” said Kemp.
The headwinds everyone predicted Kemp would encounter over Trump’s fury at him over the governor’s decision to certify Georgia’s 2020 election and not bow to his demands never materialized, in part. because Kemp never jumped on the bait.
If you’ve been paying attention to the day-to-day activity of this whole race over the past year, Kemp’s post never mentioned Trump. Instead, he has shown tenacity and discipline since first running for a state senate seat nearly 20 years ago. He won that seat at a time when Democrats held power in Georgia.
Kemp lost a race for Agriculture Commissioner in 2006, then turned around and won the seat of Secretary of State in 2010. He was not expected to win the gubernatorial primary in 2018, but he did.
Spend time with the fourth-generation University of Georgia graduate, and his work ethic is readily apparent. He says his inspiration to rule comes from surviving the most difficult period of his life.
“My wife Marty and I remember the days when we were home on Friday nights as small business owners, barely paying the people who worked for us, couldn’t pay our suppliers and wondering how are we doing. get out of it? And not being able to support your family and potentially losing everything you worked for – that’s a bad place to be. he admitted.
“I say to people, listen, we’ve been, all Georgians have been through tough times over the past three years with the pandemic and civil unrest, elections and many other things that have happened. And all of this has affected every family in our state, and probably most across America, and it has certainly affected our family,” he said.
Kemp adds that he and his wife had to fight several times before succeeding. “So in many ways, we’re just trying to get away with the same way of representing our great state, just like we knew the Georgians were, and that’s why I can relate to where they were, and that “That’s why I took the actions I did. And the hardest things we’ve been through in government, few of them have been harder than the things we’ve been through as a family and in as business owners, he explained.
“That’s what my family and I did – we’ve got a record to prove it, whether it’s standing up and fending off corporate America that was trying to cancel us for Major League Baseball. But also, we got ourselves stood up and fought against Hollywood and national media top brass when we reopened our economy,” he said.
Kemp wasn’t the only Republican to fend off the winds of a Trump grievance. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who defied the former president’s demand that he “find more votes” similarly, he put his head down, ran on his record of conservatism and small business experiences, and won hands down.
In short, these voters may still love Trump and yet are more interested in voting on what’s going on in their daily lives, not replaying someone else’s old grudges.
Despite Kemp’s rift with Trump, he doesn’t share such a rift with U.S. Senate primary winner Herschel Walker, whom Trump endorsed and easily won on Tuesday night.
“I have known Herschel Walker for 40 years. We have a lot of mutual friends and supporters there,” said Kemp.
“Tuesday night wasn’t just for me. I mean if you look at the team that we have in our state, members of the General Assembly, other constitutional officers that were on the ballot, they were part of the good governance that we did in Georgia for 20 years now, under Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, and now my administration,” he underlined.
Kemp said he knew his run would get national attention: “Stacey Abrams is going to run over a hundred million – she said she’ll have a lot more with all her different groups supporting her, so it’s important for conservatives and people who are really concerned about principles and freedoms and the freedoms of our country to join us and fight against national money from Hollywood and New York,” he said.
“Listen, the Georgia governor race is just a stepping stone to Stacey Abrams running for president in 2024. And we have to stop her from being our governor in Georgia; it will also prevent her from being our next president.
Salena Zito is a CNN political analyst, journalist and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through leather shoe journalism, traveling from Main Street to the ring road and every place in between. To learn more about Salena and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.