What They’re Saying: Brian Kemp Used Legislative Session to Support His Campaign Amid Trump-Backed Perdue Challenge

April 7, 2022

This week, Brian Kemp capped off three months of hijacking Georgia’s 2022 legislative session to push dangerous and unpopular bills that risk public safety, attack teachers and students, and ignore the will of voters – all to cater to special interests, extremists, and the MAGA base as he faces a challenge from Trump-endorsed David Perdue.

Read more about Kemp’s efforts to pander to Republican primary voters in an election year:

AP: Georgia legislature drifts right in 2022 election year

  • In the final hours of its 2022 session, Georgia’s General Assembly pivoted from celebrating a towering bipartisan mental health overhaul to bitterly debating Republican efforts to ban transgender girls from playing sports — one of many about-faces in a year when the GOP is squarely focused on upcoming election primaries.
  • Driving the dynamic was the need for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to shore up his conservative credentials against a challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, as well other lawmakers’ bids for statewide office.
  • “The majority party has made the calculation that the short-term boost they get from the base outweighs the long-term damage to the brand and public policy consequences,” [Democratic Rep. Josh] McLaurin warned.
  • In the face of Trump’s efforts to oust him, Kemp certainly went right. He embraced bills he had shied away from last year, including one to let parents opt out of school mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic and another to ban transgender girls from playing high school sports. Although Kemp backed permitless gun carry in his 2018 run, the issue appeared moribund until he resurrected it at the start of this year’s session.

AJC: Kemp ends session with new fuel for reelection fight

  • And now dozens of bills molded by the governor’s office and his key legislative supporters await Kemp’s signature just ahead of the May 24 GOP primary against former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
  • But it’s the red meat that he’s served up to the GOP base that might get the largest bounty of attention as the primary nears.
  • Democrats, as they did through the entire legislative session, predicted that Georgians will punish Kemp and his allies in November for the pivot toward culture wars issues.
  • “Voters can recognize obvious hypocrisy,” said state Rep. Shelly Hutchinson, a Gwinnett County Democrat. “In November, the GOP will learn not to underestimate Georgia voters.”

AJC: Bill to allow permit-less carry of handguns clears Georgia House

  • Opponents said Republicans are pushing legislation to remove the handgun licensing process to play to the GOP base. But doing that, they said, would also make it easier for those who don’t have a legal right to possess and carry handguns to do so — leading to an increase in gun violence.
  • For years, gun rights advocates have pushed to rid the state of its gun licensing process, but the proposal picked up steam this year when Gov. Brian Kemp — who faces a stiff GOP primary fight for reelection — said he supported passing permit-less carry legislation.
  • An Atlanta Journal Constitution poll found in January that about 70% of Georgia voters surveyed — and 54% of Republicans — believe gun owners should be required to get a license before carrying a concealed handgun.
  • McLaurin noted that the five Democrats who spoke against the bill Friday had all flipped districts that were previously held by Republican lawmakers.
  • “We hold formerly Republican districts where people … believe that they need representatives who are not going to buy into this drift right BS to appeal to a base,” State Rep. Josh McLaurin, a Sandy Springs Democrat said. 

AJC: ‘A day to put your seat belt on’: Sine Die at the Capitol

  • Many of the bills that have gotten through — and will be debated at the session’s end — aim to shore up the Republican base. Kemp has embraced the agenda this year as he faces a primary challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is backed by ex-President Donald Trump.
  • Democrats, in the minority, have limited chances to pass legislation, but they’ve spent plenty of time pointing out the bills they feel are meant more to play up to GOP primary voters than solve problems, real or imagined.

Atlanta Magazine: “Divisive concepts” and delivery robots: A roundup of the bills that passed (and didn’t) on the Georgia legislature’s last day

  • Republicans attempted to pass a separate bill banning trans girl athletes from playing on girls’ teams at Georgia public schools, but it failed to pass the Senate earlier in the evening.
  • But Governor Brian Kemp — who’s hoping to prove his conservative chops ahead of this year’s Republican primary — visited both chambers late in the evening and urged lawmakers to protect “fairness in girls’ sports.” In response, Republican lawmakers folded a weaker version of that bill’s language into the “divisive concepts” legislation.


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