Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has vowed to make clear distinctions between himself and his likely 2022 Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, as he prepares to run for what promises to be a high-profile reelection race next year in what has become a battleground state.
What’s likely to make his task more difficult, however, is former President Donald Trump, who has pledged to back a Republican primary opponent against Kemp after claiming that the governor did not do enough to push back on what he believes was voter fraud in the Peach State, which helped cost him his own reelection victory against President Joe Biden.
That said, Kemp told Fox News he is not going to take “anything for granted in a primary or general election” while promising that “nobody’s going to outwork me.”
In his first national interview since Abrams announced her own gubernatorial bid this week, Kemp told the network Thursday that he’s “been gearing up for this for three years,” adding that the rematch against Abrams will be “a fight for the soul of our state, again.”
In 2018, Abrams, a former leader of Democrats in the Georgia House, made history as the state’s first black woman gubernatorial nominee of a main political party. She lost to Kemp by about 55,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast.
Some say that, as a voting rights advocate, she was instrumental in helping Biden last year become the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Georgia in almost 30 years and in helping Democrats sweep GOP Senate incumbents out of office during the Jan. 5 runoff elections, handing the party the chamber’s majority.
That said, Kemp highlighted “a clear contrast” between him and Abrams ahead of next year’s race and what he described as “the conservative leadership that I’ve provided, keeping our economy open, keeping our schools open, keeping our churches open, standing with law enforcement.”
One of the first governors to reopen the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kemp blasted the Biden administration’s policy record since taking office, stating that “nobody likes the federal overreach that we’re seeing and all the things that are coming along with it.”
He then went on to highlight a litany of other issues: “Thirty-year highs in inflation, the disaster we’ve seen at the border. Every state in the country’s dealing with that. The disastrous pullout in Afghanistan.”
“I’m running on the record that I ran on in 2018 when I told people what I was going to do, and I’ve been doing that and people can look at that record,” he added.
Kemp noted that he was “making Georgia the number-one state in the country for business, growing our economy even in the middle of a global pandemic, largest teacher pay raises in state history, passed 52 health care bills dealing with transparency and antiquated outdated rules and regulations, lowering private-sector health insurance costs but also working to provide more access to the needy that are out there.”
The governor also said he planned to tout the voting integrity legislation he signed earlier this year that Abrams and Democrats decried.
“Georgians support the ability to participate in elections but also making sure they’re secure, and that’s what this bill does,” Kemp told Fox News.
The law contains a new voter ID requirement for obtaining an absentee ballot as well as securing ballot drop boxes and calling for continuous vote counting on election night. The law also provides more days for weekend voting.
Nevertheless, Kemp says he is “gearing up politically” for another tough contest.
“After the last governor’s race and what we saw in 2020, I’m no fool to the situation that we’re in. I know that it’s a tight environment, just like it was in Virginia. We’ve got to work extremely hard,” he told Fox News.
“I know that I’ve got to raise twice the money that I raised in ’18 because of what Stacey Abrams did. We got outspent two to one, even as I raised record amounts of money,” he added.
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