DAHLONEGA — During a campaign stop in Northeast Georgia on Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp touted the 2022 legislative session, which saw many victories for his agenda.
"This is by far the best legislative session I've ever been involved in," Kemp told the crowd in Hancock Park. "It's just incredible what we've been able to do in Georgia."
It's not often that a governor gets all of his legislative priorities passed by the General Assembly, but that happened in Georgia this year. Among the achievements, lawmakers approved a state budget that included the final installment of a $5,000 teacher pay raise Kemp promised in the 2018 campaign.
Other education measures included the Unmask Georgia Students Act, the Parent's Bill of Rights, and a bill that restricts the teaching of nine so-called "divisive concepts" in Georgia schools. In the 11th hour, lawmakers tacked on an amendment to that bill that addresses transgender students in sports.
"We're simply making sure in Georgia that we have fairness when it comes to girl's sports," Kemp said. The amendment creates a committee to consider the future of transgender athletes in school sports.
Kemp and the other speakers also touted the restructuring of the state income tax and the more than one billion dollars in taxpayers' refunds.
"We've had a great session," said Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega. "I can tell you for the 12 years I've been down there, this is the most conservative message we've ever delivered."
A poll out last week showed Kemp 11 points ahead of his GOP challenger, former U.S. Senator David Perdue; Kemp told reporters he's not taking it too seriously. "The ultimate poll is going to be on May 24, and then the first Tuesday in November, and that's what we're focused on," he said.
The survey also showed Kemp doing better in a matchup with Stacey Abrams than Perdue does. Kemp has shifted his focus to Abrams in recent weeks and rarely if ever mentions Perdue's name.
Both Kemp and Perdue are billing themselves as the only candidate that can beat Abrams. "We have something to sell to the people of Georgia; we're not just against the other side and demonizing them," Kemp told the crowd. "We are for something."
Supporters at the rally, from elected officials to residents cited the governor's record as the reason they were backing him.
"I think we've got a governor that's effective. I think we've got a governor that shares the same conservative values of this part of North Georgia and the state as a whole," said Chris Dockery, Lumpkin County Commission Chairman.
With Trump's endorsement and active support for Perdue, the race is seen as a test of Trump's influence. "I don't need a politician that's been defeated, telling me who I need to vote for the next Governor of the state of Georgia," Dockery said.