Brian Kemp. His name has, for many years, even before he was elected Governor of Georgia, been a household name in Conservative circles. One of the signature aspects of the 2018 Governor’s race in Georgia was the campaign ads released by the Kemp campaign which were based on various hot button issues with added toung and cheek humor. In an add addressing the issue of Illegal Immigration, then candidate Kemp was seen in front of his Ford Pickup truck and making a humorous ‘vow’ if you will to “round up illegal aliens and take them home myself...yup I just said that”. However, unbeknownst to many Georgians at the time, the reason for these creative ads was not just to add an extra kick to the message, but to help Kemp catch up with his Democratic opponent and now infamous voting rights activist, Stacey Abrams. For much of the early portions of the campaign that Abrams was running, she managed to attract national attention for the first time in a very long time seeing as Democrats had been almost an afterthought politically speaking in the state of Georgia for decades. She was constantly outperforming Kemp in the polls and on numerous occasions, managed to raise more money than Kemp at the conclusion of various fundraising goals.
With all this beginning to cause a stir in the Kemp camp, they knew they had to counterpunch. And they did just that with there strange, albeit effective, ads. In 30 seconds or less, he would point out the key differences between himself and Abrams and why he was the right choice to lead the state. Fast forward to November of 2018, and the campaign had flipped in Kemp’s favor and he would go on to win the Governor’s Mansion in a narrow 2 percentage point victory. Kemp’s Governorship got off to a strong start and he maintained decent approval ratings for his first year in office. However, when the Novel Coronavirus had reached America’s shores by early March in 2020, Governor Kemp, after initially locking down the state for just a few weeks, decided to do (the right thing), and re-open Georgia. However, the consequences of doing so would go on to see a huge spike in Covid cases and related deaths in the state and a majority of the blame had now been laid upon his feet. This saw his overall approval take a hit, even amongst a fair amount of registered Republican voters. But this would not be the only drama he would face in 2020.
In November, when it had come time for the American people to carry out their civic duty in casting their vote for the President, all eyes were on Georgia. Many election pundits had labeled Georgia as a potential ‘sleeper-flip’ for the Democratic candidates for their two U.S Senate seats and for the Party‘s Presidential nominee, Joe Biden. For much of the evening, however, former President Donald Trump was holding on to fairly decent leads all throughout the state which lead many to believe that he would be on track to claim Georgia and lay to rest any lingering hopes that Georgia could go ’Blue’ for the first time since 1992. However, this is where suspicious activity began to unfold. In the early hours of November 4th, 2020 (the day after Election Day) security camera footage had purported to show apparent Voter fraud taking place at election centers throughout the Atlanta Metroplex (which was and will continue to be a must win area for Democrats if they wish to win Georgia in future elections). This footage was not released for some time after the election, but it had been rolling from the early morning hours of Election Day all the way until the early morning hours of post-election day. This, added with the announcement by Election officials counting ballots at the StateFarm Arena (home of the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA), that a pipe burst in a room near the counting of ballots had forced them to hault procedure and pause counting until the morning. It was later revealed that no such pipe had ever burst and it was during this supposed pipe repare that Joe Biden began to take his first lead in the state.
With all of this seemingly good enough evidence, and the continuation of more being released by the day, Brad Raffensberger, the Secretary Of State, intervened and began to launch an investigation into the various instances. However, without so much as doing a through examination of the available evidence that was piling up, Raffensberger took the word of elections officials in Fulton County and elsewhere and decreed their to be no evidence of widespread fraud. This, understandably, did not sit well with Conservatives from all across the country, least of all in Georgia. And this began the war of lawsuits filed on behalf of the Trump campaign alleging that their was in fact enough evidence of fraud to force a forensic audit. However, Raffensberger refused to do anything of the sort and consistently refuted the former President’s claims, without giving good reasons as to why. Seeing no other option, Trump and other top Conservatives began to call on Governor Kemp to intervene and launch an investigation into the numerous situations that seemed to indicate fraud or at the very least, force Raffensberger to conduct an legitimate investigation. Kemp refused, and was very stubborn about doing much of anything right up until it was too late.
Fast forward to the present day. Just yesterday, March 25th, the Georgia Legislature sent over a series of Election reform bills that are much needed all over the nation as it pertains to voting. The Governor, in a shocking move to some, signed the bill, without any hesitation. Such laws going into effect will make it more difficult to perpetrate fraud from taking place in the future and signing it was a no brainer. But a question remains. Did Brian Kemp sign the bill because he actually believed in its mandates? Or did he simply sign it as a result of heated speculation and various polling that have him trailing various would-be opponents in a Primary? The ladder seems to be the more likely answer. See, before Biden took office, though many Conservatives in Georgia and around the U.S did not have much of a liking for Kemp, they still held out hope that he would improve in a number of areas moving forward. However, after Biden took office and began to destroy the very fabric of this nation, suddenly, Kemp was under fire again, this time for being viewed as a key reason as to why America was in such a terrible situation with Biden now calling the shots.
Like most Republican Governors and Politicians, they are fully aware that the future of the party is aligned with ‘Trumpism’ and the America First Agenda. They are also aware that this party is Trump’s party for the foreseeable future. So when Trump announced that he would be working to unseat Kemp with a more favorable pick in the general election, Kemp (unsurprisingly) sprung into action and began to pass himself off as a ‘Trump fighter through and through’ and a Populist, and this, that and the third. And with his decision to sign the elections legislation, he likely believes he has done enough to see him through to victory in the primary election next Summer. One final question, however, does remain. Why would he work so hard and take so much heat, just to turn around and try to win over the Trump base that had once ‘fallen in love‘ with him (so to speak)? Why wouldn’t Kemp simply stick to his convictions (much like Ohio Governor Mike DeWine) and firmly run his state while simultaneously ignoring what the President had to say about him and how he was running his state? The answer is really unknown at this point in time. However, a good use of his time between now and Primary Election Day next Summer is coming up with a good reason as to why he acted in such a way. And even then, he should have the expectation that such a reason will still likely not be enough to win back a majority of the Trump base.
Whether it be Herschel Walker or Doug Collins, Brian Kemp will certainly have it all to do if he is to have a chance at another four years in the Governor’s Mansion. If you‘re a betting man, I‘d place some early bets on a landslide defeat for Kemp.