Another term in hand, Brian Kemp solidifies political network

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Gov. Brian Kemp is taking steps to bolster his political network as he prepares for a second term in office.

The Republican on Monday tapped two longtime aides – Cody Hall and Amelia Hawkins – to helm a powerful committee that is empowered by a new law to tap unlimited contributions.

Two other aides, Brian Barrett and Collin Cummings, will remain as advisers to the Georgians First Leadership Committee as they redirect the governor’s get-out-the-vote apparatus to help Senate GOP hopeful Herschel Walker ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff.

Aides to winning gubernatorial campaigns often take jobs with a governor’s official office or land lucrative private gigs. But the advent of leadership committees, created by a Kemp-backed law, offers a new way for political leaders to retain key aides and maintain their political apparatus.

Hawkins was Kemp’s deputy campaign manager after a stint as the director of executive operations in the governor’s office. She’s now the executive director of his leadership committee.

Hall is a longtime spokesman for Kemp who served as his director of communications and senior adviser during the reelection campaign against Stacey Abrams. He’ll stay on as a political adviser for the governor through the leadership committee.

Currently, candidates have a cap on how much they can raise from a single donor when they raise cash for their main campaign operations. Statewide candidates are allowed to raise $7,600 from individual donors for the primary and again for the general election.

There are no limits on leadership committees, which are allowed to coordinate directly with candidates. Combined, Abrams and Kemp raised about $80 million through their leadership committees by Oct. 25, with contributions as large as $5 million at a time from wealthy donors and groups.

Kemp’s leadership committee also served as a conduit for outside groups that refused to siphon money through the state GOP, whose chairman sided with failed Donald Trump-backed challengers to Republican incumbents in the May primary.

Kemp’s leadership committee could continue to marshal financial resources that would previously have gone through the state party.

The governor can’t run for a third term, but he could steer his leadership committee to promote his priorities, bolster his political allies, maintain his grassroots network and target adversaries. It could also serve as an ad hoc campaign if he aims for another office, such as U.S. Senate, in 2026.

The governor said he is keeping key elements of his political operation intact because “Republicans cannot rest on our laurels.”

“What Team Kemp has built over multiple, successful statewide campaigns has laid the groundwork for future success at the ballot box here in Georgia,” he said, “and provides the blueprint for how we keep the Peach State the best place to live, work and raise a family.”