CORNELIA, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp spent Friday trying to win over Republican voters, with the May primary is just over three months away.
"Thanks for being in the fight with us," Kemp told a packed room at a bar in downtown Gainesville as he started stumping in what is now his fourth statewide campaign.
He’s been a familiar figure among Republicans in Hall County, and in neighboring Habersham County, where he campaigned shortly after departing Gainesville.
Kemp faces a challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who has the backing from Donald Trump. The former president has squabbled with Kemp since Trump lost Georgia in 2020, and called on the governor to illegally overturn the results in that election. Kemp declined.
The governor's first campaign swing goes through five northeast Georgia counties, which Trump won in 2020 with more than 78% of the vote. But two years earlier, Kemp won the same counties with an even higher percentage in his first race for governor.
"There’s a lot of Trump supporters that are die hard Trump supporters and that are die hard Kemp supporters," the governor said. "And those are the people we’re talking to."
Conservative doctrine has guided Kemp through issues like gun rights and abortion restrictions. However, Kemp’s supporters hope Trump’s ongoing squabble with him over the 2020 election will fade as other issues get more traction.
"I think the conflict is fading away," said former Gov. Nathan Deal, who stumped with Kemp in Cornelia. "I think (Republican primary voters are) looking at candidates for who they are and what they’ve done and how they’ve demonstrated their leadership. And that’s why I’m supporting Brian Kemp."
Kemp added he's making inroads with Trump voters who question whether they should support the incumbent. "People that are upset about things, I’m telling them my side of that story. When they hear that, that’s boding well for us," the governor explained.