In the midst of trying to organize a special election in less than a month, Brian Kemp found time to talk to Forsyth County Republicans about his own political contest.
Kemp has been serving as the state’s secretary of state since January, when he was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to fill the remainder of Karen Handel’s term.
Handel, also a Republican, resigned to focus on her campaign for governor.
Kemp is fighting to remain secretary of state, a position that oversees state elections and professional licenses, among other duties.
The former state senator talked with members of the local GOP about his achievements in the legislature and as secretary of state.
“I think I have a reputation of just trying to bring good common sense to government,” he said. “I think the government tries to tell people what to do, versus listening to what people want them to do, and that’s what I’m trying to do as your secretary of state.”
Kemp is also continuing a fight started by Handel to implement a voter verification program.
The battle to verify Social Security numbers, names and citizenship status of those registering to vote has been ongoing for about 18 months.
“President [Barack] Obama’s Department of Justice doesn’t really think like we do,” he said.
“One way or another, we’re going to go to court, we’re going to get this issue resolved and we’re going to make sure that when we register people to vote in Georgia, that they live here and they’re a U.S. citizen and a citizen of this state.”
Tuesday night’s other guest speaker was former District 12 state Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger.
Graves is one of several candidates running for the District 9 U.S. House seat recently vacated by Nathan Deal, who is also a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
Graves told the standing-room-only crowd at the Forsyth County Senior Center about his conservative priorities and his accomplishments in the state House.
He also recalled his first foray into politics, which began when he and his wife successfully prevented an abortion clinic from opening near his Gordon County home.
Though he grew up without much money, Graves said his parents “encouraged me to dream big and work hard.”
“I have lived, what I consider, the American dream,” he said. “It’s been an amazing life for me when you think about where I came from.”
Prior to the two featured speakers, the meeting allowed the many candidates in the room a chance to briefly introduce themselves.
Party member Jean Jordan said there are so many candidates, the short introductions were “the only way that I’m going to personally hear from them.”
Jordan said she’s torn between three candidates for the 9th congressional district, saying “it really goes back and forth, but I really haven’t made a decision yet.”
Regardless of which candidate she ends up backing, the priority is to the Republican Party.
“It’s a very important time for sure,” she said.