Convincing non-white voters that Republican policies serve their interests will be a key component of Brian Kemp’s re-election campaign, the governor told University of Georgia College Republicans last week.
Kemp narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial election, but he failed to capture votes from the majority of racial minority voters. More than 90% of Black respondents and more than 60% of Latinx respondents said they cast their ballots for Abrams, according to an Edison Research exit poll.
Kemp may need to appeal to non-white voters to secure a second term in office, considering the pace at which the non-white population continues to grow in Georgia. Between 2010–2019, the U.S. population grew by 19.5 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While the Asian American, Latinx and Black populations grew in the U.S. by 29%, 20% and 8.5%, respectively, the white population declined by about a fraction of a percent, according to the Brookings Institute.
“We’re going to do much better than we did in 2018 with the minority vote,” Kemp said. “We’ve got to continue to work on that as Republicans.”
The governor pointed to two of his appointees—U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King—as strides toward a greater level of diversity in statewide offices. King is the first Hispanic statewide official in Georgia’s history, while Loeffler is Georgia’s first female U.S. senator in more than 90 years.
Kemp also falsely claimed that Republicans are “a lot more diverse than the Democrats are right now.” In the Georgia General Assembly, more than 99% of Republican legislators are white, and almost 88% are men. More than 56% of Georgia’s Democratic state legislators are women, and more than 70% are Black, Asian or Latinx. At the federal level, there are far more Democratic than Republican people of color in Congress.
Continuing with his outcries against the “radical left,” which were a cornerstone to his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Kemp alleged that a Joe Biden presidency would lead to higher taxes and “job-killing regulations that will ruin the great American comeback.”
In regard to maintaining the Republican majority in the Georgia General Assembly, Kemp said it’s “imperative” that Republicans continue to control both chambers, considering the next class of legislators will redraw congressional and legislative district maps.
“If Democrats take control, it creates a lot of heartache for us, and it will be very tough to try to get something done,” Kemp said. “The Democrats right now, it’s not the Southern Democrats we knew 10-15 years ago I served with in the General Assembly—it’s the radical wing of their party that’s taking control.”
After a “Go Dawgs,” Kemp started the conversation with an update about the COVID-19 pandemic, telling the students that Georgia is “doing well as a state, compared to the rest of the country” and that “our numbers are trending in the right direction.”
The state of Georgia reported 2,269 new COVID-19 cases, 37 deaths and 120 hospitalizations on Friday, Oct. 23. That was the highest daily increase in cases since before Labor Day. Kemp said he’s continuing to fight two battles: the virus itself and the economic repercussions of the pandemic.
In the 2021 legislative session, Kemp said he believes the budget will be at the forefront of the agenda, as well as “going after street gangs and drug cartels,” human trafficking, education and health care. In regard to COVID-19, Kemp said the legislature will likely focus on how to support small businesses and displaced workers in the hospitality and airline industries.
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