Gov. Brian Kemp responded Thursday to Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams’ first ad of the general election campaign, defending his support for expanding gun rights and the anti-abortion measure he pushed through the legislature.
In an exclusive interview with Capitol Beat, Kemp argued that the “constitutional carry” bill the General Assembly passed this year allowing Georgians to carry concealed firearms without a permit will protect law-abiding citizens from criminals who don’t take the time to apply for a permit.
“Her calling constitutional carry ‘criminal carry’ is ridiculous,” he said. “Criminals are the ones who have the guns.”
Kemp also defended the “heartbeat bill” lawmakers passed in 2019, his first year in office. The law, which has been blocked by federal courts pending a much-anticipated U.S. Supreme Court determination on the legality of abortion, prohibits abortion in Georgia after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically six weeks into pregnancy.
Kemp said a strict anti-abortion law is what Georgians want.
“We are a state that values life,” he said.
Abrams released her first ad of the general election campaign on Wednesday, slamming Kemp’s stance on gun rights and abortion. The 30-second spot argued the new permit-less carry law will lead to more gun crime and that the heartbeat law will roll back women’s rights by imposing prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Kemp won the Republican nomination for a second term as governor last week, defeating former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the GOP primary by an unexpectedly large margin. Abrams was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, setting up a rematch of the 2018 gubernatorial contest that saw Kemp narrowly defeat Abrams.
Kemp said Thursday he’s looking forward to hitting the campaign trail with a newly minted Republican ticket that includes state Insurance Commissioner John King, Georgia’s first Latino constitutional officer, and two African American candidates, Public Service Commissioner Fitz Johnson and U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
“I’m excited about the ticket we have,” Kemp said. “We’re going to have a very diverse, compelling ticket.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.