GOP candidate for governor Brian Kemp takes questions from reporters in front of the Kemp campaign bus, after speaking to supporters in Perry. Kemp’s campaign style hasn’t relied on celebrity appearances but plays up his rural roots.
Photo: Ryon Horne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Ryon Horne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kemp’s secret recording, new calls to resign and special session politics 

Democrat Stacey Abrams and her allies have seized on audio recorded last week of Republican Brian Kemp speaking about the Democratic turnout operation. 

The audio, first reported by Rolling Stone, was taped on Friday at the Blind Pig Parlour Bar in north Atlanta.

He spoke of Abrams’ campaign efforts to turn out absentee ballot votes, which helped Democrats build what appears to be an initial advantage in early-voting. 

Here’s his full quote: 

“They have just an unprecedented number of that, which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”

Kemp’s campaign had no immediate comment on the audio, which was released as Abrams faces new scrutiny over her participation in the burning of a Georgia state flag with a Confederate emblem in 1992. 

His campaign has tried to maximize Abrams’ gaffes as well, particularly her remarks about “undocumented” immigrants being a part of a Democratic blue wave – words she said were taken out of context.  

Democrats were quick to leverage Kemp’s remarks to renew their calls for Kemp to resign as the state’s top elections official. On Tuesday, the Democratic Party of Georgia released a poll conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling firm that showed voters split over whether he should step down. 

(The poll of 554 voters had 46 percent of voters saying he should resign and 45 percent saying he should not, a statistical tie.)  

***

In a rare spate of agreement, both Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp commended Gov. Nathan Deal’s call for a special legislative session next month to provide about $100 million in hurricane relief – and perhaps settle the Delta tax break debate once and for all. 

Kemp praised the “incredible” response by federal, state and local leaders and said “we must continue to provide relief to those who need it most.”

Abrams also applauded Deal and went a step further, outlining plans to create a “Rebuild Georgia Fund” that relies on donations from donors and companies to help farmers ravaged by Hurricane Michael. She would also suspend state sales taxes in regions damaged by severe storms. 

Georgians are resilient — we know how to take care of each other,” she said. “I am proud to stand with our affected communities to help damaged farms, businesses, neighborhoods, and homes rebuild — now and for as long as it takes.” 

Her campaign outlined her full plan here.

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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.
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