Brian Kemp is gearing up his 2022 campaign for a second term

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp talks with the media about Georgia’s four mass COVID-19 vaccination sites Monday at the State Operations Center, GEMA, February 22, 2021   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp talks with the media about Georgia’s four mass COVID-19 vaccination sites Monday at the State Operations Center, GEMA, February 22, 2021 STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Gov. Brian Kemp is revving up his campaign machinery to prepare for an expected rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams – and ward off the threat of a formidable GOP primary challenger.

The Republican announced a network of grassroots supporters in all Georgia’s 159 counties and announced an initial campaign team of four staffers, part of a display of organizational might ahead of a tough reelection campaign.

Kemp’s standing with fellow Republicans took a hit after November’s election when former President Donald Trump blamed him and other state GOP officials for his election defeat.

But the governor’s footing has steadied in recent weeks with his defense of a far-reaching election overhaul embraced by Trump supporters. The most recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed his job approval hovering at 45%.

He’s so far staved off a serious GOP threat, as former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and other Trump favorites have declined a challenge. Instead, several longshot candidates have lined up, including Democrat-turned-Republican Vernon Jones.

Still, Kemp faces ongoing backlash from activists upset he refused to call a special legislative session to overturn Trump’s defeat. More than a dozen county GOP organizations voted to “censure” Kemp last month, though the effort to rebuke him fizzled out at bigger party gatherings this weekend.

Kemp has surrounded himself with a new team of advisers for his 2022 bid, and the trusted aides who helped him narrowly defeat Abrams will work from outside the bubble of the campaign on a “Stop Stacey” initiative.

His new campaign manager is Bobby Saparow, the former top aide to U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson. Two longtime Kemp staffers – Ian Caraway and Amelia Hawkins – will serve as deputy campaign managers. And Tate Mitchell will be the campaign press secretary.

You can find the list of the Kemp organizers across the state here, which include the names of activists and local officials. Note there’s one extra county listed: Glasgow, a reference to the Abrams gaffe in the 2018 campaign.

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