Local citizens, aspiring and current politicians alike happily greeted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) after he stepped off the bus at Dawson County restaurant Papa’s Place, the first stop in his 2022 reelection campaign tour.
After concluding his visit at Papa’s Place Thursday morning, Kemp visited the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office to thank local law enforcement.
“We’re literally in a fight for the soul of our state. I’ve said that a lot, but it’s true…the reason we’re in a fight for the soul of our state [is that] when you look around the country, I think people now know more than ever it matters who your governor is,” Kemp said.
Kemp was elected as the state’s governor in 2018, beating Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams. He faces a primary challenge against multiple other Republican candidates, including former U.S. Senator and businessman David Perdue. If he prevails in the May 24 primary election, Kemp could face off against Abrams again during the fall general election.
Current state house representative and Dawson County native Will Wade (R) enthusiastically introduced the governor, pointing out his leadership during the 2022 General Assembly was one of the state’s “most conservative sessions.”
Before continuing his speech, Kemp referenced the severe weather across the state earlier this week, mentioning the at least one fatality from the Tuesday tornado and the destruction wrought on homes in places like Bryan County.
The governor considered it “very lucky [that] the storm didn’t stay on the ground longer than it did” and encouraged event attendees to keep people in Pembroke and other impacted areas in their thoughts and prayers.
Kemp reaffirmed state decisions as far as advocating for children’s return to classrooms during the pandemic, the heartbeat bill and elections integrity, in spite of cultural and political pushback.
He’s also signed legislation to “unmask Georgia students,” protect girls’ sports, limit students being shown obscene materials and address the teaching of divisive ideologies in classrooms. The governor described the latter bill as a product of the state’s work with superintendents, who he said “want involved parents and a transparent process.”
“This has nothing to do with what our history is and what it was in our state,” Kemp said. “It needs to be a truthful history, not somebody’s idea of what that was or pushing an individual’s unnecessary, biased values on our children in our state.”
He discussed rural broadband expansion efforts, the tax rebates included in this year’s state budget and the suspension of the gas tax as ways to provide financial relief for Georgians.
“Make no mistake, as brutal as the war is in Ukraine and how bad Vladimir Putin is, these policies and gas prices were high long before that started,” he said.
Kemp likewise mentioned a statewide veterans’ tax exemption for retirement income and the last $2,000 pay raise for teachers during his term, to complete the total $5,000 raise he promised during his initial campaign.
He later mentioned a right-to-farm bill that he said would make it easier for farmers not to waste products and for people to get food.
Kemp said initiatives like that will be “more important than ever with the global supply shortage.”
Later on in the speech, he mentioned efforts of the General Assembly, his wife, Georgia’s First Lady Marty Kemp and the GRACE Commission to help end human trafficking and help victims reenter society “in a promising and optimistic way.”
He added that more money is being sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Street Gang Task Force and prosecution units and physicians in the state medical examiner’s office. Governor’s emergency funds have been allocated to crime suppression efforts on the parts of multiple state and local agencies.
Kemp elaborated by characterizing voters’ support as vital to he and his colleagues.
“Make no mistake, we are not taking this primary for granted,” Kemp said. “We will be working every single day, just like we have been to make sure we keep the leadership and team we have,” he said.
Kemp reminded the Dawson and north Georgia-area audience that Will Wade and State Sen. Steve Gooch (R) are on the ballot and said that they will help the state continue going “in the right direction.”
“If you don't want to go the way of Washington D.C.,” said Kemp, “then help with your vote and support…[and] then we’ll turn around and do it again against [Stacey] Abrams in November.”