Outside of the four leading candidates to be President of the United States come January 2025 – Biden, Trump, Harris, and DeSantis – there’s a pair of potential nominees on either side of the aisle who could return American politics back to the centre where 80 per cent of the electorate resides. The first of which is Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp (pictured). Photo credit: AP/John Bazemore
Having dissected the myriad reasons why Joseph R. Biden will not be the Democratic nominee and provided a variety of explanations as to how Donald John Trump could be tripped up on the way to his party’s nomination, may I now suggest a couple of candidates who have not entered the race, but possess the credentials to run traditional campaigns from classic liberal and conservative positions.
These potential nominees would revert matters toward the norms we had become accustomed to, but which over the past dozen or so years have been peeled away for different reasons. This would be displeasing to the populist right and the progressive left, but it would return election battles to the wide berth in the centre where about 80 per cent of voters reside.
For the sake of governance, maintenance of national civility, and sensible political dialogue, the nation needs a more high-minded debate about the divisions existing and an example of how leaders can provide direction, work together, and tamp down the extremes on each side. For these purposes and more, I think the country requires Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia (Republican) and Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania (Democrat) to answer the call to serve. In this article I will make the case for Kemp and in my next piece, the reasons for Shapiro.
Brian Kemp is serving his second term as governor of Georgia, having defeated media darling and election denier Stacey Abrams on two separate occasions. Ms. Abrams claimed in 2018 that Kemp, through his position as Secretary of State, had used voter suppression to win. Although news outlets and political scientists found no evidence of these practices, Abrams used these charges to become a household name and the face of systemic racism in politics.
Kemp proceeded onward and implemented a very conservative agenda once he took office. Coinciding with his governorship, COVID overwhelmed the agenda, and then the George Floyd riots followed. By the time of the 2020 election, Kemp had a tempest of issues on his platter but turned this pot of lemons into lemonade.
As a businessman, Kemp understood the importance of economic growth and opportunity. He accepted changes in approach and the need to adjust to a market in transition. As a governor, he brought many of these pragmatic values to the governor’s office. He did not set out to be a cultural warrior but had no interest in allowing progressive dogma to steamroll his administration, state governance, or his priorities of creating a positive business climate. He sought only to support Georgians who desired to improve their economic circumstances or exercise basic citizen liberty.
When COVID hit, Kemp followed the direction of the Trump administration and its health regime under the leadership of Dr. Fauci. But, like fellow GOP governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, Kemp believed that many on the Left saw COVID as an opportunity to grow government powers and programs. Like the Sunshine State’s leader, Kemp explored alternative responses to the crisis.
When the same health officials who had demanded schools and churches closed, parks shut down, and beaches locked up gave their approval to protests after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, Kemp looked at the facts, the virus’ activity, and what further interruptions to businesses would create. He chose to open up the state, allowing people to get back to work, kids back to school, and large segments of life back to normal. Like many Red State governors, this course of action drew heavy criticism from the Dominant Media, including the following headlines in various sources:
- Guess which governor’s coronavirus response is the least popular (CNN)
- America’s Authoritarian Governor (The Atlantic)
- Georgia Governor Shows Remarkable Ignorance About How the Coronavirus Spreads (New York Magazine)
- Georgia’s Governor Says He Just Learned About How Coronavirus Spreads. He’s Either Lying or Incompetent (Rolling Stone)
- Trump says he told Kemp: ‘I totally disagree’ with move to reopen Georgia (Politico)
The endless diatribes, including those from the Trump administration, did not deter Kemp from moving ahead. In retrospect, he was right. Georgia, despite opening up, had numbers in the middle of the pack when compared to other states, including those who followed a strong regime.
Kemp also stared down President Trump when he tried to force the governor and his Secretary of State into producing votes when Trump lost Georgia. Regardless of his claims, Trump could not bully Kemp, who, while supporting the President, undoubtedly wanted him to win the election. The Georgia governor would not compromise his integrity, even though Trump threatened, bloviated on social media, and later mused that he might support Abrams in the 2022 election. This kind of steely backbone says much more about Kemp’s character than Trump’s powers of persuasion.
Finally, Kemp took on MLB when they decided to withdraw the 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta. After the 2020 election, Kemp did acknowledge that COVID regulations had created voting irregularities that opened the system to abuse, though nothing substantial ever proved Biden’s votes were illegally cast. In response, Kemp overhauled some of the voting rules, once again producing howls of protest from his detractors on the left who again claimed voter suppression.
President Biden insisted that the new laws simply reinstated a new regime of Jim Crow Statutes designed to nullify the franchise for great swaths of the minority community. Kemp, displaying his decisive demeanour, refused to back down and continued with the revamped system. Ironically, Atlanta ended up hosting MLB’s showcase, the World Series in the fall of 2021, presenting the trophy to the hometown Braves in the state it had decided did not deserve its mid-summer classic.
In 2022, when he ran for re-election under these new regulations, the state’s vote went off without a hitch. Kemp’s nine-point victory over Abrams transpired while two Democratic senators won their state-wide elections, neutralizing any charges the Democrats had made before the vote and vacating any thoughts of trying to gin up voting rights violations after it.
Kemp provides a competent and conservative alternative without the baggage the 45th President brings, including the revulsion Trump has sown among many independents, especially women. He has avoided many of the culture wars that have engaged DeSantis, instead focusing on providing a good business climate to protect jobs, encouraging strong family life, enforcing the laws thus ensuring safety, and delivering on his promise to play to the state’s strength.
He would do the same for America and the nation would be well served to have a talented political leader of his character putting forth his case for a national administration. Kemp appears to have no plans to do so. Let’s hope his mind can be changed.
Dave Redekop is a retired elementary resource teacher who now works part-time at the St. Catharines Courthouse as a Registrar. He has worked on political campaigns since high school and attended university in South Carolina for five years, where he earned a Master’s in American History with a specialization in Civil Rights. Dave loves reading biographies.