Brian Kemp is the Face of Georgia

To all but the most hardcore Georgia politics junkies, Brian Kemp spent the early part of his career largely as an unknown. That’s not to say he hadn’t made an impact, first as a senator and then as Georgia Secretary of State. His fingerprints were all over key pieces of legislation that shaped Georgia’s success and unique character over the last few years before he became a household name.

And make no mistake, in the 2018 election, he became a household name.

“My style is to be who I am and to say what I think, and sometimes that’s politically incorrect,” he told South magazine during the election.

His campaign ads proved to be a viral smash, with imagery of the plain-spoken politician revving a chainsaw to cut legislation, igniting explosives to blow up government waste and hopping in his pickup truck to round up illegal immigrants. They were equally parts effective at appealing to his base and at igniting a firestorm of controversy among those who pen pearl-clutching editorials for left-leaning blogs.

It helped that these ads were running in a state gubernatorial election that had attracted the national spotlight. With the eyes of the nation watching, Brian Kemp laid out in blunt terms exactly what Georgia was all about in his campaign ads. They were, in short, impossible to ignore. Like the man himself.

“One thing I’ve learned over the years in politics is you cannot fool voters and people are sick of politicians who try to do that,” he told South. “You’ve got to be yourself. People can live with that. What they don’t like is if you try to be something you’re not.”

So far, his tenure as governor has proven far less controversial than his campaign ads would suggest. Kemp got to work bringing business and opportunity to Georgia’s rural areas while at the same time addressing the issue of gun violence, pursuing his goals in both areas with the formation of special task forces. If there’s one issue that raised eyebrows, it was his signing of the “Heartbeat Bill” which was celebrated by pro-life groups even as it was condemned by pro-choice groups.

But that’s Brian Kemp. He’s said since day one he was going to be himself, and he has. True to his word and unapologetically Georgian. In 2018 we voted for him to be the Governor of Georgia, and 2020 we’re proud to name him the Face of Georgia.

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