Kemp prepares to steer Georgia after tough, partisan marketing campaign

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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s new governor campaigned as a self-described “politically incorrect conservative” who sealed help amongst fellow Republicans with an endorsement from President Donald Trump and eked out a detailed November victory after lobbing a last-minute accusation that the state Democratic Celebration tried to hack the election.

Now the query is whether or not Brian Kemp can be as partisan a governor as he was a candidate after he’s sworn into workplace Monday.

He advised reporters throughout a statewide victory lap final week he plans to work onerous to win help from Georgians who didn’t vote for him in November. And he’s already considering forward to operating once more in 2022.

Republicans nonetheless management all statewide places of work in Georgia and each chambers of the legislature, giving Kemp little short-term want to succeed in throughout the aisle. However the 2018 midterms noticed Georgia Democrats make their first notable advances in years, together with a achieve of a dozen seats within the state Home.

Continued momentum, spurred by demographic adjustments because the state turns into much less rural and fewer white, might threaten Georgia’s red-state standing in future elections. Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams by fewer than 55,000 votes out of three.9 million forged in November.

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A bunch backed by Abrams has filed a federal lawsuit saying Georgia disadvantaged many low-income and minority voters of their voting rights with Kemp, serving as secretary of state, overseeing the 2018 election. Outgoing state Democratic Celebration Chairman DuBose Porter, in a closing deal with to celebration members, known as Kemp a “morally corrupt man who is aware of he has to cheat to win.”

Outgoing GOP Gov. Nathan Deal targeted his two phrases, above all else, on defending Georgia’s status as a fascinating state for companies to relocate and increase. Deal labored with Democrats on legal justice reforms aimed toward conserving nonviolent offenders out of jail. And he outraged social conservatives by vetoing a so-called “non secular freedom” invoice that some feared would legalize discrimination towards same-sex {couples} and danger boycott threats by huge companies.

Kemp has revealed few specifics of his agenda for the legislative session that begins in tandem along with his inauguration Monday. Touring the state final week, he revisited broad marketing campaign guarantees to advertise small enterprise and financial progress in rural areas, and to crack down on violent gangs.

“These are bipartisan points,” Kemp mentioned. “They’re going to be my focus of the (legislative) session.”

Whereas competing in a crowded area for the Republican gubernatorial nomination final yr, Kemp staked out conservative positions on social points, pledging to signal robust abortion restrictions and increase gun rights.

He additionally vowed to signal a model of the non secular safety invoice that Deal rejected. Through the basic election marketing campaign with Abrams, Kemp mentioned he would approve solely a narrowly drawn model that mirrors an current 1993 federal regulation, insisting such a regulation “doesn’t discriminate.”

Requested at an Augusta cease final week if his 2019 legislative agenda features a “non secular freedom” invoice, Kemp replied: “I’m going to be speaking about a number of issues I’m going to do legislatively once we prepare to speak about them.”

College of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock mentioned new governors typically attempt to keep away from hot-button points as they take workplace.

“Typically an individual who will get elected in a detailed contest, they spend an inordinate period of time of their first time period reaching out to individuals or teams who didn’t help them initially,” Bullock mentioned.

That’s not what some supporters amongst Kemp’s Republican base wish to see.

“From what I’ve observed, compromise includes Republicans caving on precept and beliefs,” mentioned Benjamin Richardson, 36, an information-technology specialist who backed Kemp and turned out to see him in Augusta. “Whereas they’ve energy, they need to seize it and use it.”

Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb of Atlanta mentioned he can’t but inform whether or not Kemp will tack proper or attempt to work throughout the aisle and set a extra reasonable tone.

“I’m having hassle studying the tea leaves as a result of he’s mentioned each issues,” Holcomb mentioned. “He’s mentioned that he’s enthusiastic about bipartisan work to enhance our state, however he’s additionally mentioned that he’s not going to neglect his base and goes to push very conservative insurance policies.”

Kemp’s fellow Republican, Home Speaker David Ralston, mentioned throughout a Thursday information convention that he has little urge for food for taking over points which have the “potential to divide us as a state.” Ralston mentioned he didn’t favor one other try at passing “non secular freedom” laws.

The schism between Kemp and lots of Democrats stays deep following the bruising marketing campaign. Two days earlier than Election Day, Kemp straight accused the Georgia Democratic Celebration of making an attempt to hack the state’s on-line voter database. Kemp refused to supply proof of any hacking, however mentioned celebration officers have been being investigated “for doable cybercrimes.” Democratic Celebration leaders denied wrongdoing and accused Kemp of abusing his workplace as Georgia’s then-top elections official.

Greater than two months later, no additional particulars about that investigation have been launched.

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Bynum reported from Augusta, Georgia.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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