Hannah Carroll, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
Brian Kemp was inaugurated as Georgia’s 83rd governor on Jan. 14 at McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Institute of Technology.
The ceremony came in the wake of a controversial election that left the state divided and harboring mistrust towards the new Republican governor. After declaring victory when 22,000 ballots had not been counted and later being accused of purging voters, many argued that Kemp is not the legitimate governor because he won by means of cheating.
Despite rising tensions, Kemp expressed in his inauguration speech that he aims to bridge the gap between Liberals and Conservatives that was created during the election and unite the state once more.
“We will be known as a state united. It can be done,” Kemp said.
However, junior President of Berry College Young Democrats Matthew Blakely believed this unity to not be possible. The election caused more hatred and anger in the two parties after Kemp’s alleged voter suppression and his calling of an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party regarding poll tampering, according to Blakely.
“There will always be a schism,” said Blakely.
Junior Chairman of Berry College Young Republicans Ben D. Walker agreed that the mistrust created among the Democratic party will be Kemp’s biggest obstacle to overcome.
Kemp targeted radical conservatives throughout his campaign, adopting Republican rhetoric and visuals, such as his truck to “round up illegal aliens”, guns in support of the Second Amendment, and a “chainsaw to slash regulations”. Though he won the election with the support of the far right, Kemp’s policies will reflect more of a moderate conservatism to attract the support of citizens in urban areas, according to Walker.
Kemp’s inaugural address supported this claim, in which he made many promises that were more moderate in comparison to those he made while campaigning. He promised a $5,000 annual pay raise to all teachers, that Georgia will become the number one state for small business and that he will “crack down on organized crime and those who challenge our future.”
According to Walker and Blakely, Kemp’s stance on education and desire to fund K-12 schooling will be one of his strongest points and will be difficult for Democrats to oppose.
Blakely projected that Kemp will perform well as Georgia’s governor, but is interested in how he will interact with the new legislation. Thirteen legislative seats flipped, garnering more ground for the Democratic party despite Republicans still holding the majority. With the Democratic party experiencing such a shift, Kemp will have to propose more moderate policies in order to gain their support, according to Blakely.
Walker also believed that Kemp will do well throughout his term. He is expected to maintain the growth under former Governor Nathan Deal and build on his weak points, two of which are education and addressing human trafficking, according to Walker.
Despite the political divide that has been created within the state, Kemp believes that Georgia can once again be united and experience growth as he partners with the legislature to create policies that benefit all citizens of Georgia.
“I will fight for all Georgians, not just the ones who voted for me,” Kemp said.