Dueling operatives at a Brian Kemp campaign rally in Newnan. Jennifer Brett/AJC

‘Don’t talk to me.’ Kemp’s campaign feuds with Democratic operatives 

Georgia Democrats have tried to rattle Brian Kemp with planesnames and automobiles. His campaign lashed back Tuesday in a different sort of way. 

A Democratic operative riding in a white van trailing his bus tour showed up at his stop in Cartersville on Tuesday, and was quickly greeted by a Kemp staffer holding a four-foot wooden stick affixed with a white sign and a bold blue arrow.

It read: “I am paid for by California socialists. Don’t talk to me.” 

Dueling operatives at a Brian Kemp campaign rally in Newnan. Jennifer Brett/AJC

That wasn’t all. The Republican candidate for governor shifted the crowd’s attention to the operative during his stump speech, prompting a cascade of boos when he said “we have a tracker here monitoring what we do.”

At the next stop, in Bremen, another Democratic staffer was asked to leave the private farm before the event began. Kemp brought it up again, saying if she was allowed in “we’d like to offer them a hamburger.”

Political parties and outside groups often deploy operatives or trackers to record a candidate’s speeches – and pounce on any gaffes. In 2014, trackers following Gov. Nathan Deal often engaged in a ridiculous cat-and-mouse game with campaign staffers who tried to block their cameras. 

It’s been a more understated rivalry this year – until Tuesday, that is. 

Kemp’s campaign has rarely directly engaged with trackers following his public events. And his opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, has instructed her staff to be polite to trackers and let them attend public events unless they’re being disruptive. 

Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman Seth Bringman said the party’s trolling of Kemp must be working

“We would advise him not take out his frustrations on our staff,” he said. “This is not normal behavior from a man who wants to be governor, although neither is pointing a gun at a teenager on TV.”

At Kemp’s last public event, outside Sprayberry’s barbecue in Newnan, the Democratic operative was back – and so was the Kemp staffer armed with the big blue arrow. But this time, the Abrams’ ally came armed with a comeback. 

She held a sign of her own with an arrow pointed up. It read: “My boss doesn’t have a health care plan.” 


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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.