Georgia 2018: Kemp hones his ‘pro-rural’ plan for governor

Brian Kemp in a staff meeting at his office in the Capitol. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose campaign for governor hinges on drawing huge support in rural Georgia, released his most detailed plan to help struggling parts of the state.

Kemp’s “New Day in Rural Georgia” initiative calls for tax breaks to prod the expansion of high-speed Internet across the state, more incentives to spur small businesses to take root in rural Georgia and an aggressive new approach to market the state’s agriculture industry.

“People feel they’re being left behind, that politicians in either Capitol – Atlanta or Washington – aren’t fighting for them. I know different,” said Kemp, who vowed to pass “pro-rural legislation” in his first 100 days in office.

He is facing four leading Republican contenders – Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and state Sen. Michael Williams – in the race for Georgia governor. The winner will face one of two Democrats: former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans.

Cagle had earlier outlined his plan to expand high-speed Internet, which is a central part of his campaign as well.

Kemp’s initiative would eliminate the state sales tax on high-speed Internet equipment for rural counties and state fees for the right of way for online providers. He would also explore tax incentives for tech companies that invest in Internet expansion in rural areas.

The plan also called for a new strategy to push Georgia crops, in part by taking the “Georgia Grown” marketing push international. Kemp would also expand the state’s system of inland ports – massive logistics hubs – and organize trips to places like California to try and recruit farmers and agriculture firms.

“I’ll be a governor that celebrates 50 jobs in Bainbridge just like I’d celebrate 500 jobs in Buckhead,” said Kemp.

To spur job growth, Kemp would call for the economic development team to assign a “strike team” to partner with local officials and universities to plot out business opportunities. And he would expand tax credits for employers who provide transportation for staffers as well as workers who carpool.

The governor’s office would get a new “military liaison” and a pilot education savings account initiative – an idea Hill has long pushed in the Senate – for military families under his plan. And health providers who set up shop in rural parts of the state would get a host of new tax incentives.

“Some people in rural just don’t feel like there’s someone in Atlanta fighting for them,” he said of his plan. “But they know I’ve been there multiple times and that I understand their issues, that I’m just as comfortable on a backhoe as in a boardroom.”

Kemp’s plan comes as he’s facing new scrutiny of his office’s role in a lawsuit alleging widespread issues with Georgia’s voting machines. Public polls, as well as internal ones released by the campaigns, show Cagle with a wide lead and a brewing race for a second spot in a likely runoff next year.

Read more recent AJC coverage of the governors race:

Candidates for governor are showing rural Georgia some love

‘Religious liberty’ could have impact on Georgia’s Amazon effort

Williams steps up his embrace of medical marijuana

Georgia candidates seeking voters see gridiron as a golden opportunity

Democratic forum previews a fight for 2018

Georgia gov hopeful gets heat over response to Las Vegas shootings

Democrats in Georgia governor’s race push gun limits

Georgia governor race: Who is running in 2018

New relationship brewing between Georgia Republicans, alcohol

A divide over the two Staceys has Georgia Democrats worried

Governor’s race revives a familiar feud between Kemp, Abrams

 

Reader Comments 0

15 comments
MiltonD
MiltonD

Kemp has presided over one disaster after another as Sec. of State, why in the world would anyone consider giving him the keys to the Governor's mansion?

BDCoole
BDCoole

Of the present 10 commentators, how many of you live in rural Georgia? You've missed the point of Kemp's strategy. He doesn't need Democrat voters, or liberal Republicans, to get elected. Maybe rather give us your opinion on how backwoods Georgia is, at least in your minds, perhaps you could enlighten us rubes on political strategy.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Pretend you are a hillbilly or are from the trailer park or coal mines....worked for Handel....she is one of us

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

Which of these GOP candidates can be easily bought by Atlanta corporate money ?

Without that card....we will be hearing about how the Baptist are being persecuted for the next decade..,.we will be seeing the Southern Baptist Convention running state politics.

Something to think about. Georgia has not changed and will not change for years

SSINative
SSINative

Can't afford to have a guy who cannot effectively run the Secretary of State's office try to run the state.  As one political blog put it - "Kemp has abandoned his quest to become a competent Secretary of State and has decided to run for governor".  Let's nip that fantasy in the bud.

taters
taters

He can't even protect your voting rights. There is no way I would let him run the state.  Typical right-wing bible-thumper who only cares about the rich.

Manman
Manman

If Kemp gets the Republican nod we are much dumber than I thought. He is incompetent. Everyone enjoy their free year of credit monitoring thanks to him?

rdh
rdh

Let's see.. Brian Kemp gives discs of voter information to his buddies and  wipes voting machines so that they cannot be audited.  This is his job and he basically screws everyone in GA.   He is not fit for another public office.  

gresham-brown
gresham-brown

Kemp has a unit of law enforcements investigators at his disposal. But when have they ever made an arrest for professional licensing violations? When have they ever arrested a person impersonating a nurse? So will he have the GSP and GBI back off from their duties so a voter doesn’t get mad? Kemp is joke when it comes to law enforcement.

JKToole
JKToole

Kemp wants to expand broadband to rural areas. Our GOP senators and house reps have voted against net neutrality.

Who exactly will his move benefit?

HELLNOMARTA
HELLNOMARTA

Kemp cleared the voting machines. He gave our infor to Trump. He is a puppet for Putin. Crooked, lying and evil.

jmf49
jmf49

Kemp is incompetence personified. Massive data leaks of personal information from the Secretary of State's office on more than one occasion, bungled election security, all overseen by the Secretary of State (Kemp) and no matter how hard he tries to dismiss his incompetence and blame it on secretaries and other staff members it all come back to the incompetent man in charge, Kemp.