On his first campaign visit to Dalton in August, Secretary of State Brian Kemp touted his “four-point plan” for Georgia in his bid to become the next governor. On Wednesday, Kemp returned to Dalton and he is beginning to push initiatives he says will make that plan a reality.
Kemp said his four points are making Georgia No. 1 for small business, strengthening all of Georgia with an emphasis on rural areas, reforming state government and “putting Georgians first” on issues such as immigration.
As the campaign has moved into the latter part of the year and with just six months until the May 22 Republican primary, Kemp has been unveiling different initiatives as part of the plan. One of those he has recently pushed is the streamlining of the adoption process in Georgia to help take some of the burden off of foster care and the Division of Family and Children Services.
“Adoption reform is a big piece of that,” Kemp said during a visit with donors and supporters at the Dalton Distillery. “I was really excited about that and my wife Marty is as well. We have friends that have adopted and people in our church who have had a hard time adopting and it is something that is close to my heart. We have a lot of abandoned babies every year that get stuck in the system for months and have a hard time getting to a good, adoptive home.
“It is very costly for the state, either the hospital or DFCS, having to take care of those children literally sometimes for months and months versus if we can quickly get them into a pre-approved adoptive home that is going to be better for the child and great for the adoptive parents,” he said.
Kemp said his initiatives are “real solutions to real problems.” A small business owner for 30 years and a former member of the General Assembly as a representative from Athens, Kemp said he has been problem-solving and backing up his campaign rhetoric in both his public and private life.
“I challenge people to look at the record and vote for a candidate who has a record of actually doing what they say on the campaign trail,” he said. “I have grown frustrated like a lot of Republicans have with people who say one thing at the Saturday morning breakfast and do something completely different when they are at the Capitol of Washington, D.C., or do nothing at all.”
Kemp, who has been Georgia’s secretary of state since he was appointed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2010 when Karen Handel resigned to run for governor, is running for the GOP nomination to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal. The office of governor is limited to two consecutive terms. Kemp is in the Republican race along with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, state Sen. Hunter Hill, businessman Clay Tippins, former educator Mark Urbach and state Sen. Michael Williams.
“Really for us right now, it is two things — we are really focusing on raising money and building our grassroots campaign,” Kemp said after meetings in Murray and Whitfield counties throughout the day. “You have to have two things to win a race. You’ve got to have money and you’ve got to have votes, and we are working every day to work on both of those. That is why we are here again in Dalton.”
Kemp said his message is resonating with the rural Republican base and he is energized by his “grassroots” organization.
“I am very proud of where we are right now,” Kemp said. “We were the first candidate in the governor’s race — Republicans or Democrats — to announce that we had a county chair in all 159 counties. We are literally organized all over the state. I think that is one of the strengths of our campaign.”
Wednesday’s event — which was attended by local donors and many of the area’s elected officials — was organized and hosted by Vann Brown and David Renz, Kemp’s campaign chair in Whitfield County.