Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, is on the campaign trail for re-election, and he made a stop in Swainsboro on Friday.
A small gathering was organized at the H.G. Yeomans Barn outside of town, and Governor Kemp showed up around 11:30 a.m. to greet locals, shake hands, and make connections in Emanuel that will hopefully translate to support at the polls as the primary rolls around in May.
While on hand, the governor delivered a short address, hitting on the key points of his campaign. His wife, First Lady Marty Kemp, has been a trailblazer in the state fighting against human trafficking, and she stood behind him on the steps of the barn in support.
The attendees then shared in a catered lunch inside, where Governor Kemp continued his politicking.
After the visit, The Chronicle was able to catch up with Governor Kemp about his bid for re-election. Below is his email interview, which he hopes citizens here will consider as they cast their vote in the gubernatorial primary on May 24.
When did you decide to run for re-election?
Governor Kemp: I’ve been preparing for this fight since I took office in 2019. From record economic success to fighting for Georgia’s values, we’ve accomplished a lot in the last three years, but there’s always more work to do. That’s why this election is so critical. We have to keep Georgia on the right track.
What accomplishments are you most proud of as governor? Similarly, why do you enjoy being the leader of the Peach State?
Governor Kemp: I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done to create economic opportunity in all parts of our state, not just Atlanta. We’ve started the Rural Strike Team to market rural communities for economic success, expanded rural broadband in record numbers with more to come, and last year, 74 percent of the jobs and investment we created in Georgia were announced outside of the 10-county metro area.
Georgians have been so resilient during my first three years in office. Through a global pandemic, we kept our state open for business, and because of that so many small businesses and business owners in towns just like Swainsboro were able to fight another day.
Aside from passion for the job and your constituents, what are some of the driving reasons you’re looking to remain in office? What “unfinished business,” so to speak, is there for you? If you’re re-elected, what do you hope to accomplish over the next four years?
Governor Kemp: Well, first let me say we’ve accomplished a lot. We have the lowest unemployment rate in state history, more Georgians working than any time since the early 2000s, and a record amount of jobs and investment coming to all parts of our state. We’ve secured our elections with the top-ranked Election Integrity Act in the country, backed our law enforcement, gone after human trafficking, and cracked down on gangs and violent criminals with tougher penalties.
I’m running again to build on that momentum. We’ve seen in the last few years how important it is who your governor is when it comes to decision making at the state level, and I’m fighting to keep our state moving in the right direction.
In your opinion, what is going to be the biggest challenge in route to a primary win? What one issue might Georgians have in their minds when they go to the polls, and what would you say to them right now to address that proactively and sway their vote in your favor?
Governor Kemp: There’s going to be a lot of outside noise in this race. We’ve already seen it, but I’m asking folks to look at the record. We passed the No. 1 ranked Election Integrity Act in the country last year, according to the Heritage Foundation. We’ve banned the Defund the Police agenda in Georgia and made historic investments in public safety. We’re bringing record economic opportunity to rural Georgia. We passed the largest teacher pay raise in state history, and we’re working on legislation right now to ban divisive ideologies like CRT and put parents in charge of their children’s education. We have so many accomplishments to talk about, and I am the only candidate in this race with a record of fighting and winning for hard-working Georgians.
How are you feeling about having three challengers from your own party? What’s the message for you on the campaign trail in this regard?
Governor Kemp: I’m not worried about what other people are doing. I’m focused on the things I can control and running on my record.
Stacey Abrams has qualified for the race as well. Should the two of you end up on the ticket again, this will set up Georgia’s first gubernatorial rematch since 1950. Again, what’s the message to voters right now about this particular challenge?
Governor Kemp: Make no mistake, we are in a fight for the soul of our state, and I’m ready for it. I already beat Stacey Abrams once and together, we can do it again and stop her from becoming our next governor—and our next president.
Finally, we’re a local paper… What do you know about our area and its voters? What would be your message to Emanuel Countians specifically who are heading to the polls?
Governor Kemp: I think places like Swainsboro and Emanuel County are a prime example of not only how much rural Georgia has to offer but how resilient we’ve been as a state these last three years. When the pandemic hit, businesses like America Knits in Swainsboro stepped up to the plate to manufacture critical supplies for the front lines of the fight, and when we were the first state to reopen, hardworking Georgians in these communities—and throughout our state—were right there with us in the fight to protect lives and livelihoods. Some of the best times I have had as governor are when I can get out of Atlanta and visit places like Emanuel County to hear what people are dealing with on the ground. I’ve been proud to stand alongside the men and women in these communities, and I’ll continue to fight for them if I’m elected for another four years.
Governor Kemp aims to revisit Emanuel in April for a bigger, more public gathering. Look for details in the near future.
Currently, he faces three opponents in the primary: Catherine Davis, David Perdue, and Kandiss Taylor. A fourth, Vernon Jones, has withdrawn from the ticket after qualifying.
Abrams is the only qualifier on the Democratic ticket.