Gov. Brian Kemp (R.GA) began his second term Thursday with greater political power than ever. He is now ready for a potential 2026 Senate run and a future White House bid.
In his popular, term-limited Republican governorship address, the popular Republican governor rattled off a list identifying priorities for the next four-years. This included promises of pay increases for state employees as well as the use of the state’s surplus for a $1 billion income-tax refund for residents.
Athens, Georgia-born conservative won a remarkable set of elections victories in 2022. He is now a rising GOP star.
A coordinated campaign by Donald Trump’s former president to primary him was his punishment for not meddling in the 2020 presidential elections.
Trump’s taunts were turned in Kemp’s favor. He managed to gain credibility with centrists as well as independent voters, who had become tired of Trump’s antics. Kemp beat Stacey Abrams, Democratic darling, by 8 percentage points in a marquee general elections matchup.
Kemp’s power moves during the Senate runoff race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D.GA) and Herschel Walker (GOP nominee), put him on the radars of powerful politicians like Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.
Kemp gave Walker the voter data he had collected to him to be used to help his fledgling campaign. Kemp, always a politician, managed to distance himself from Walker who was plagued with multiple controversies related to his personal life as well as his professional accomplishments.
Steven Law, the leader of the McConnell-aligned political action committee, said to the Associated Press, that Kemp did a “remarkable job” helping his party in a time when it was most needed, while protecting his brand.
Al Williams, Democratic state representative, told reporters before Thursday’s inauguration that Kemp was “at the peak of his powers” going into his second term. He also acknowledged him for a variety of conservative policy victories, including permitless firearm carrying legislation and stricter restrictions on state elections rules. Kemp won the favor of voters by distributing billions in federal COVID-19 relief funds throughout the state.
Williams stated that Williams spent the money very efficiently and spread it wide.
Political analysts point out steps Kemp has taken to show he is already planning his political future as he gains recognition and popularity.
Kemp submitted paperwork to the Federal Election Commission in November to establish Hardworking Americans, which is a political action committee that could help him get into a federal race. Kemp can influence elections and give money to candidates by having a federal PAC.
According to Democratic strategist David McLaughlin, the runoff for U.S. Senate gave Brian Kemp a reason to open a federal PAC. While Kemp could claim he was using the money to support Herschel Walker’s woefully underqualified, it is likely that it is to help him get an early start in his bid for a 2026 election against Jon Ossoff. Keep in mind that Kemp has never sought federal office. Ossoff will be the incumbent for a full term and running as a “family man” for the first time in his professional career.
Kemp will be heading to Davos, Switzerland next week in an attempt to even the playing field. Along with Sens, he will be part of the “America (Un)Bound” panel. Chris Coons, Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema and Kyrsten Coons (D-DE).
Kemp’s attendance to the annual billionaire conference could bring the state economic opportunities that Kemp could use in a Senate race.
The conference will host approximately 600 CEOs and 52 world leaders.