Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Brian Kemp talk at a rally in Macon GA Saturday, July 21, 2018. Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Brian Kemp for Governor during the event. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

2 Veeps in 2 weeks: Pence to stump for Kemp on Oct. 11 

Vice President Mike Pence is set to make a second trip to Georgia to stump for Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign for governor on Oct. 11, rescheduling a visit that was scrapped earlier this month due to Hurricane Florence. 

He will attend a “Victory Dinner” organized by the Georgia GOP that will also feature Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and House Speaker David Ralston. It’s not immediately clear if he’ll make other stops while in Georgia. 

Seen as a litmus test for the 2020 presidential race, the Georgia election has attracted a string of high-profile politicians

Pence will be the second vice president to visit Georgia in a two-week span, as former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta on Thursday to boost Democrat Stacey Abrams. 

Their presidential counterparts have taken sides in the race, too, with Barack Obama backing Abrams and Donald Trump supporting Kemp. And former President Jimmy Carter held an event with Abrams in his hometown of Plains last week

The timing of Pence’s trip likely lends itself to protests: His visit comes on National Coming Out Day and the eve of Atlanta Pride weekend. Pence has long emphasized his support for “religious liberty” legislation that has infuriated LGBT leaders

The Democratic Party of Georgia said Kemp was “trolling Georgia’s LGBTQ community and the more than 400 major employers who oppose his plan to sign” the legislation into law by inviting Pence that day.   

“Unfortunately for Mr. Kemp, Georgians won’t stand for discrimination,” said the party’s spokesman, Seth Bringman.

While Kemp has vowed to sign a “religious liberty” proposal into law, he’s said he’ll veto any version that veers from the federal language signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Some LGBT advocates and corporate leaders consider that version unacceptable, too. 

Georgia is familiar territory for Pence, who crisscrossed the state during the 2016 campaign. His last visit here was in July when he attracted hundreds to a Macon hotel shortly after Trump offered a surprise endorsement of Kemp that powered him to a dominating runoff victory.

The Oct. 11 event, at the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, will cost donors $250 for dinner and as much as $100,000 for multiple private photo opportunities with the vice president. 

In the November race, Kemp aims to energize conservatives who support both Deal and Trump by promising to boost school safety and adopt new law-and-order crackdowns as he tries to broaden his appeal to a wider bloc of the electorate

And Abrams hopes to become the first Democrat to hold Georgia’s top office in nearly two decades by appealing to left-leaning voters who rarely cast ballots in midterm elections with a mix of progressive policies and a constant focus on expanding Medicaid and opposing “religious liberty” measures. 

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