ATLANTA—Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor in Georgia in a race that is getting national attention, sat down with The Epoch Times to discuss the campaign. In May, Georgia Secretary of State Kemp faced an uphill campaign for the Republican nomination against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Cagle had bested Kemp in the primary with 38.9 percent versus Kemp’s 25.6 percent, but in the July 24 runoff, Kemp won going away, taking 69 percent of the vote. The week before the runoff election, President Donald Trump tweeted his “full and total endorsement” of Kemp.
Now Kemp faces Stacey Abrams, who is vying to make history as Georgia’s—and the nation’s—first black, female governor. Abrams served six years (2011-2017) as the minority leader in the Georgia house. The political contrast could not be clearer: Abrams is a progressive, while Kemp is a Trumpian conservative. Early polling shows Abrams with a two percent lead.
Epoch Times: How would you like to introduce yourself?
Brian Kemp: I am Brian Kemp from Athens, Georgia. I am a small business owner, a husband, and a father with three teenage daughters. I have been a working Georgian for over 30 years, mainly in construction, financial services, real estate, and agriculture. So I have been a small business owner for 30 years.
I have a private sector mentality, and I got frustrated with government years ago, after being in the private sector for years, and I ran for the legislature. I served two terms in the Georgia State Senate cutting government regulations, cutting taxes, you know, bringing strong values and the common sense of a business person’s mentality to state government.
Later, I went home for about 3 years, really continued to get frustrated and again decided to do something about it, and I ran for secretary of state. I ran on making sure that I told people what I was going to do when I was campaigning and actually doing it when I get into office—like cutting government regulations, streamlining government, using technology to make state government and the secretary of state’s office more efficient.
We’ve completely overhauled all of our IT systems, to make them better to save millions of taxpayer dollars. We’ve worked hard to reduce government regulations, and I have been fighting very hard against the liberal left to make sure that we have accessible, fair elections in our State. We have a motto in the office: we want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat, when it comes to elections.
That’s exactly why I am running for governor. I think we need a governor that is going to put Georgians first, ahead of the special interests, the status quo, the “politically correct,” and those that are here illegally.
I am running on a conservative four-point plan to make Georgia number one for small businesses by cutting government regulations, to fundamentally reform how state government spends taxes and operates by implementing a spending cap that is tied to population and inflation. Streamline, make government more efficient, and then lower the state income tax, which will help all working Georgians and Georgia families.
We also need a governor (the third point of my plan) that will fight to make sure all the Georgians will have the same opportunity, no matter what their zip code is, what city or town or county that they live. I am going to be a governor that’s going to make sure all Georgians have access to the high speedinternet, good quality health care, innovative and quality education, and good infrastructure as well as economic opportunities no matter where their local community is.
Lastly, we need a governor that is going to put Georgians first, protect them, and keep them safe. I have robust plans for public safety reform to track and deport criminal illegals that are here in Georgia and go after street gangs that are creating the opioid epidemic, sex trafficking, murder, and violent crimes in our neighborhoods. So we’ve got to keep our families safe, and that’s why I am running.
Epoch Times: Why do you think President Trump and Vice President Pence endorsed you?
Mr. Kemp: I think the president endorsed me because, number one, he saw that I was running a campaign to put Georgians first and and have been working extremely hard; we were doing very well.
Number two, I think a lot of my policies lineup with what he is doing as president of United States. I believe in securing the border. I believe in going after criminal illegals and drug dealers. You know, President Trump called them the bad hombres out there that are shooting up our neighborhoods. I plan on doing—and have done as the Secretary of State—the same thing as he is doing in Washington, D.C., cutting government regulations, freeing up the free market economy, and keeping Georgia and making Georgia number one for small business, and putting Georgians first.
That’s what the President ran for, and he ran against the swamp. That’s what I am running for. I am running to put Georgians first ahead of the special interests. I think he saw that, and we lined up in a lot of the same ways. I like him, and I’ve been in the private sector for over 30 years. He is a very successful business person. I believe that’s why he and the Vice President endorsed me.
The Epoch Times: In one of your videos, you look really tough holding a gun. I read an article that said this might hurt you in the general election. What is your view on this?
Mr. Kemp: I will say I am going to be tough when it comes to implementing my conservative 4-point plan. I am going to take that chainsaw that was in my commercials and cut the government regulations and make Georgia number one for small business. I am going to be tough when it comes to the public safety reform to keep our families safe, and we should have a tough governor that’s not afraid to take on the gangs, drug dealers, sex traffickers, and those creating the opioid epidemic. Quite honestly, I think that’s what people want in today’s world.
I will tell this to people, too, and they will see this as the campaign goes on. I am a husband; I am a father to 3 teenage daughters, and that is why I am going to be tough, to keep them safe, but I also have a heart. I have detailed plans when you think about things that are as tender as adoption reform, and making sure our families aren’t taken advantage of that simply want to adopt a child. I want to make sure there are opportunities out there not to abort their babies, but put them into a adoption program where loving parents can get them, and literally save and change that child’s life.
So, I am not too worried about that [image of me holding a gun]. I think the more that people get to know me, they will know I am a tough guy, and that I have record of doing what I say I am going to do when I am campaigning. They will also see that I am a father, and I am sympathetic to the struggles that people have in their lives. I have been working with any kind of person that you can imagine over my business career, especially in construction and agriculture.
The Epoch Times: Some people say conservatives are actually compassionate, but also hold fast to the things they believe. What is your take on that?
Mr. Kemp: Well, the liberals always talk about how bad Republicans are and how mean they are. They are actually the ones who are mean and vicious. We are just very principled in our values, and we won’t bend to political pressure, but we also have a big heart. I have a record of that, and I think if you talk to any people who dealt with me in my office, from any different race, ethnicity, or social background, we are here to serve. We try to help people get corporate registration, renew their corporate registration, get a professional license so they can move into their career or into the workforce, that is what I am going to do as a governor.
The Epoch Times: There is a trade war going on with China. Will this affect bringing economic growth to Georgia?
Mr.Kemp: I trust President Trump with what he is doing on the aspect of trade. There’s a lot of information that I don’t have, that his economic team has been dealing with. I trust them to be doing the right things that will protect our business over here in the United States and our farmers, factory workers and everybody else. You know that’s a big piece of puzzle. I know the trade wars have helped a lot of people, but they are also causing a lot of concern. I think we just have to trust the President and Congress dealing with that.
That is something that he campaigned on; I certainly appreciate him tackling that issue. I am sure that it is going to end up with a good situation, because the United States just wants fair trade with everyone. As a governor, that’s what I will be looking for. You know, I will be pushing hard for foreign investment into Georgia, but I know that is a two-way street or two-way cargo ship, it can not just be all coming in. There has got to be exports going out. We have to do business with each other. We cannot just expect everybody to do business with us… I have been in the private sector 30 years where my opponent has been a government bureaucrat during her whole career. So, we can not trust the office of the governor to someone who cannot even pay their own taxes even though they made over a million dollars in the last five years.