9/29/18 - Athens - Brian Kemp, Republican candidate for Governor, campaigns at a young Republicans tailgate party. The University of Georgia's football season has attracted candidates. Brian Kemp invokes the team seemingly every chance he gets, with constant talk of "chopping wood" and other slogans from coach Kirby Smart. Democrat John Barrow gets in on the action, too, holding tailgates from his Athens home. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

A die-hard Dawg fan, Kemp to hold inauguration at Georgia Tech 

Forget about reaching across political lines. Gov.-elect Brian Kemp might be trying to bridge a deeper divide for his inaugural address.

The die-hard University of Georgia fan is holding his swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 14 at the McCamish Pavilion on the campus of rival Georgia Tech. The setting isn’t designed to send a political message but there’s still a certain symbolism to it. 

An Athens native, the Republican steeped his campaign in hues of deep red and black, laces his speeches with maxims from coach Kirby Smart like “keep chopping wood,” and took time off the campaign trail to take in Georgia games. 

One of his first public appearances after his victory: A venture to the sidelines of this month’s SEC championship game between Georgia and Alabama. 

He’s such a fierce Bulldog supporter that the Democratic Party of Georgia, looking to get under his skin, financed a plane to fly above Athens on a football Saturday towing a banner displaying something unspeakable to any self-respecting UGA fan: “@BrianKemp says … Go Vols.”

Kemp’s 2 p.m. address at the Georgia Tech basketball arena is the grand finale to a string of events assembled by his inaugural committee. Starting on Jan. 9, he’ll embark on a slate of nine “Georgia First Celebration” events across the state.

The visits mirror his hectic bus tour schedules during the campaign. He’ll start on Jan. 9 with visits to an Augusta club and a Savannah convention center, then will swing by a Fort Valley event space, a Blakely peanut warehouse and a backer’s farm in Chula on Jan. 10.

He’ll end the tour with a trio of events on Jan. 11 in Columbus, Whitesburg and Gainesville before a Jan. 12 appearance at a Dalton country club. 

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.