Republican Brian Kemp credits consistent good management with winning his second matchup in the Georgia governor’s office by an 8-point margin over Democrat Stacey Abrams . In the end, Kemp has faced heavy national media criticism for how he handled COVID, corporate meltdowns over the state’s new voting laws, the vast resources poured into Abrams, and even Donald Trump. It didn’t end with the former president’s fierce opposition campaign. him in the state primary.
“We had a great record, which obviously wasn’t there last time,” he told the Washington Examiner in an interview. When he ran for office in 2018, he was just a secretary of state. This time, his record included tax cuts, teacher pay raises, and less economic damage from COVID-19 than many other states.
At a time when Trump’s words were often golden in so many states’ Republican primaries, Kemp not only defeated former Senator David Perdue in the Trump-backed Republican primary, I actually made a difference of 50 points.
“I said to those of us in the primary, ‘We have a record of running offensively in this campaign and we don’t want to be defensive.’ I want to fight David Purdue and I want to fight Stacey Abrams,” he explained. “And that’s what we did. I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping the . And I ignored all the outside noise: what she was pushing, what the left was pushing, what President Trump or someone was pushing.”
Kemp credits how he handled difficult times in both the campaign and the external force as moments that paved the way and set him up for the year ahead.
“Ever since I was elected in 2018, there’s always been the possibility of a rematch,” he said. “So we developed our own ground game, in fact our own operation to vote, to track low-inclined and swing voters and provide them with a message of hope and prosperity that appeals to them. ”
Kemp said he was prepared for the expense, but knew his team should have voted against the voters and provided the arguments against which they should vote.
“We won every other constitutional office, we had a good night with our legislative candidates, and we won Herschel[Walker]in the runoff with Warnock,” he said. Hard to beat, but whenever you get an incumbent in the Georgia runoff, you have an opportunity to beat them.”
Kemp participated in his first gubernatorial race against Abrams in 2018 as an underdog, and she was a superstar who became America’s first black female governor. Although she failed, the media favorably reported on her false claims that she denied her election results and disenfranchised a large number of voters.
Within two years, many media outlets were already writing political obituaries for Kemp when he became the target of Trump’s ire. Kemp infuriated Trump by certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victorious Georgia presidential electoral list.
Months later, he faced various forms of ire from Biden, Corporate America, and every other American news outlet. They falsely called the state’s new voting reform law “Jim Crow 2.0,” but most of them didn’t even bother to skim the law — they just took the Democrats’ word for it. accepted. MLB has gone so far as to move the All-Star Game out of state.
As then, Kemp shrugged. “Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, two of the biggest investment firms in the state, were the companies that really started it,” he said, citing voting laws that somehow stifle minority votes. I made a claim. above; there was a lot to face. But when we did that, I think we really kept our focus on what people wanted, not political pressure or what a few people wanted. ”
He also didn’t bow to political pressure when he first reopened a small portion of the economy during the pandemic — after the first wave of “stop the spread” and “flatten the curve” has passed.
“Of all the governors doing it at the time, I was clearly the most grieved,” he said. “Once upon a time, every state around us closed their state parks or closed some of their beaches, but we didn’t do that,” he said.
As a result, Georgia’s tourism industry has held up pretty well during the worst of the pandemic. Plus, people could actually go outside and walk on the beach.
“There were some regulations about it, but people could go out and get some exercise or let the kids do something,” Kemp said. People from other states came to our boat ramp because they needed their sanity to do things and do things.”
Kemp said his approach was to strike the right balance and not be paralyzed by public health professionals. So did Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey, the Surgeon General, and she was one of the best and well-trained epidemiologists in the world who advised me,” he said. rice field. .
“We didn’t make vaccines or masks mandatory, and Dr. Toomey and I said early on that people had to think about the livelihood impact of not being able to survive economically. , has worked hard to get children back into the classroom,” he added, “how difficult it is to have no children in the classroom and parents have to deal with it without an outlet.”
“I felt a lot of sadness from that because of other things that were happening to the president and my political situation about those politics,” he said. In case you forgot, Trump himself and several mayors were very critical of Kemp’s failure to lock down the state.
“It was a tough time,” Kemp said. And he left his criticism of Trump there. “But I was also just listening to people who were worried about losing their business. They were worried about where their children would go… …what would happen to their children?” ?And that’s who we were fighting for.”
Kemp has now filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to form Hardworking Americans Inc., a federal PAC that he plans to use to support Republican candidates for federal office in Georgia. He says it’s just his job to stand up for policies and principles. He adds that he doesn’t do it for personal gain, but sometimes it works that way.
“In some ways, the way we stood up against Major League Baseball after we passed the election bill was one of the first instances of someone starting to stand up against an awakened cancellation culture,” he said. “We never backed down from that either. Looking back, it really helped me in the primaries and in general.”
Kemp added that he hopes to help other Republicans rise up in similar ways in the future.
Salena Zito is a political analyst for CNN and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. Through her shoe leather journalism, she travels from Main Her Street to the Ring Road and everywhere in between to reach every man and every woman.