No longer on sidelines, Georgia Chamber backs Kemp’s reelection

Brian Kemp speaks during the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's  Congressional Luncheon. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Brian Kemp speaks during the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's Congressional Luncheon. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce endorsed Gov. Brian Kemp’s bid for a second term in office, nearly four years after declining to take sides in the race for governor.

The powerful business lobby’s endorsement came as Kemp faces pressure from both sides of the political spectrum. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is weighing a GOP primary challenge against the governor, while Democrat Stacey Abrams is expected to mount a rematch next year.

Kemp has raced to defend against both threats by locking down endorsements from Republican officials, corporate heavyweights and influential outside groups ahead of the 2022 election. The Georgia Chamber’s endorsement was just the latest example of his effort to consolidate support.

Chamber officials emphasized the state’s low unemployment rates and Kemp’s aggressive approach to reopening the economy during the pandemic with the decision to endorse.

“His positive working relationships with the business community and with organizations like the Georgia Chamber have paved the way for tremendous growth in our state over the last three years, making Georgia the envy of the nation,” said Chamber chief executive Chris Clark.

It was a contrast from 2018, when the organization pointedly stayed on the sidelines even after making endorsements in a range of down-ticket races.

Back then, Chamber officials showcased both Kemp and Abrams at a well-attended luncheon that took place as business executives recalibrated their decisions after many had picked then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to win the GOP nomination instead of Kemp.

Abrams drew applause at that event for calling to expand Medicaid and opposing “religious liberty” measures, while Kemp focused on his plan to cut taxes and limit state spending.

Kemp’s statement on Monday focused on his handling of the economic turmoil spawned by the pandemic, a strategy he credited with generating “record low unemployment and unprecedented jobs and investment” in Georgia.

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, right, stand Tuesday with Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark following the group’s Congressional Luncheon at the Macon Marriott City Center. Both candidates used the forum to explain their plans for Georgia’s economy. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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