Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is touting his COVID-19 record ahead of an expected rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, as well as a primary challenge from former Sen. David Perdue.
Georgia was one of the first states to reopen businesses like salons and gyms at the beginning of the pandemic, and was also one of the first states to end masking requirements. Kemp faced criticism from all sides of the political spectrum for his decisions, with Dr. Anthony Fauci accusing Kemp of “setting us back,” and then-President Donald Trump saying Kemp’s April 2020 reopening was “too soon.”
“Fauci, Stacey Abrams, and the media, they all came after us. Washington was pushing unscientific, blue-state mandates. But I was listening to Georgians, getting calls and texts from parents missing paychecks, whose kids weren’t in school, small business owners like me worried about layoffs,” Kemp says in the ad while hanging up on a phone call purporting to be from Fauci.
Fauci, Stacey Abrams, and the media said it was too soon to reopen Georgia. But we chose FREEDOM over lockdowns, and we were RIGHT!
WATCH our latest TV ad and VOTE to re-elect Governor Kemp on May 24th! pic.twitter.com/fB8DrdDGID
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) April 13, 2022
“I didn’t care about the politics. I was going to do what’s right. We chose freedom over government lockdowns, and you stood with me. And, you know what? We were right,” he added.
In contrast with Kemp, Abrams was photographed in February posing maskless with a class of elementary schoolers who were required by city ordinance to wear masks. Abrams had accused the governor in July 2020 of “incompetency” and “immorality” for lifting the state’s mask mandate.
Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Perdue in a run-off election in 2020. The incumbent’s reputation was marred by allegations that he made stock trades after a members-only briefing in which senators received information about the potential impacts of COVID-19. Perdue was one of five senators to face a federal investigation for alleged insider trading, although no elected officials were charged. (RELATED: Social Media Users Track Stock Trading As Congress Considers Member Ban)
Kemp leads Perdue by nine points in the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of polls of their primary matchup, even as Perdue sports an endorsement from Trump. Kemp leads Abrams by five points in the RCP average.