Brian Kemp

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Brian Kemp
David Perdue and Brian Kemp (cropped).jpg
27th Secretary of State of Georgia
Assumed office
January 8, 2010
Governor Sonny Perdue
Nathan Deal
Preceded by Karen Handel
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 46th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Doug Haines
Succeeded by Bill Cowsert
Personal details
Born (1963-11-02) November 2, 1963 (age 54)
Athens, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marty Argo
Children 3
Education University of Georgia (BS)

Brian P. Kemp (born November 2, 1963) is an American politician and businessman serving as the 27th and current Secretary of State of Georgia since 2010. Kemp was appointed by then Governor Sonny Perdue to succeed Karen Handel when she stepped down to run in the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election. He was later elected to the position in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

He is currently the Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia in 2018.

Personal life[edit]

Brian Kemp is a lifelong resident of Athens who is married and has 3 teenage daughters: Jarrett, Lucy, and Amy Porter. He graduated from Athens Academy[1][2] and the University of Georgia[3], where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. His wife, Marty, also attended Athens Academy[4] and was a cheerleader at the University of Georgia. He along with his family are active members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens.[5] Kemp was son in-law of the late longtime Georgia lawmaker and Athens insurance executive Bob Argo.[6]

Kemp is a small business owner working in a variety of areas, including agribusiness, financial services, real estate development, and real estate management.[7]

Political career[edit]

Kemp served as a Georgia State Senator from 2003 to 2007 after defeating the Democratic incumbent, Doug Haines.[8] In 2006, Kemp ran for Agriculture Commissioner of Georgia. He came second in the primary,[9] but he lost the runoff to Gary Black.[10] Kemp initially declared intent to run for State Senate District 47 when incumbent Ralph Hudgens planned to run for Congress in Georgia's 10th congressional district. Hudgens withdrew and ran for reelection.[11]

Georgia Secretary of State[edit]

In early 2010 Kemp was appointed to Georgia Secretary of State by then Governor Sonny Perdue.[12] Kemp won the 2010 election for a full term as Georgia Secretary of State with 56.4% to 39.4% for his Democratic opponent, Georganna Sinkfield.[13] In 2014, Kemp was reelected.

Kemp rejects the conclusion by the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.[14] Amid Russian interference in the 2016 election, Kemp denounced efforts by the Obama administration to strengthen the security of election systems, including improving access to federal cybersecurity assistance.[14] Kemp denounced the Obama administration's efforts, saying they were an assault on state rights.[14]

Federal efforts to secure state voting systems[edit]

As evidence mounted that Russian hackers were attempting to disrupt the 2016 elections, President Obama directed his Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson to work with states to secure their voting systems as "critical infrastructure." Kemp declined to participate in the effort. In a 2017 interview, Kemp denounced the effort as an assault on state rights, stating, "I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration," adding "I don’t necessarily believe" Russia had attempted to disrupt the elections.[15] In December 2016, Kemp accused DHS of attempting to hack his office's computer network, including the voter registration database, implying that it was retribution for his previous refusal to work with DHS. A DHS inspector general investigation found there was no hacking, but rather it was "the result of normal and automatic computer message exchanges generated by the Microsoft applications involved."[16]

Data breach[edit]

In October 2015, the Georgia Secretary of State's office, under Kemp's leadership, erroneously distributed personal data (including Social Security numbers and dates of birth) of 6.2 million registered Georgia voters. This data breach occurred when the office sent out a CD with this information to 12 organizations that purchase monthly voter lists from the office. The office was not aware of the breach until the following month and did not publicly acknowledge the mishap until the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the class-action lawsuit against the office as a result of the data breach.[17] Within a month of data breach becoming publicly known, it had cost taxpayers $1.2 million in credit monitoring services for those whose data had been compromised and $395,000 for an audit into Kemp's handling of the unauthorized data disclosure.[18]

2018 Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Kemp 2018 gubernatioral logo

On March 31, 2017, Kemp announced his candidacy in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election. He faced Casey Cagle in a run-off election for the Republican nomination. During the run-off election, Cagle sought to portray Kemp as an incompetent Secretary of State, whereas Kemp sought to portray Cagle as scandal-prone and corrupt.[19] Kemp won the Republican nomination in July 2018. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Kemp defeated Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle by relentlessly maneuvering to his right on every major policy divide. His provocative ads – “Yep, I just said that,” became his tag line – and the late endorsement from President Donald Trump put him over the top."[20] He faces off against the Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in the general election.

During the campaign, Kemp provoked controversy with two advertisements. In one, he held a gun in the direction of a young man playing someone interested in dating one of Kemp’s daughters; this seemed to be in conflict with two widely held tenets of responsible gun ownership, to treat all guns as if they are loaded and never hold a gun at someone you do not plan to shoot. In the other ad, Kemp talked about rounding up “criminal illegals” himself and “taking them home.”[21][22] In the general election campaign, Kemp ran on a policy of expanding gun rights, opposing Medicaid expansion, the imposition of a spending cap, strictly enforcing drug laws, and implementing the "strictest" abortion laws in the country.[20] Kemp advocated for stricter voter ID laws, arguing that they were necessary to combat the threat of voter fraud.[20]

He has received the endorsement of and the Family Research Council. Former opponents in the gubernatorial primary, Michael Williams, Clay Tippins, and Hunter Hill have urged their supporters to back Kemp. President Donald Trump formally endorsed Brian Kemp on July 18, 2018.[23]

Voter suppression accusations[edit]

In August 2018, Emory University professor Carol Anderson criticized Kemp as an "enemy of democracy" and "an expert in voter suppression" for his actions as Secretary of State, writing that Kemp had kept 35,000 people off voter rolls, many of them from minority groups.[24] His tactics included kicking people off voter rolls for an errant hyphen or if "a stray letter or a typographical error on someone’s voter registration card didn’t match the records of the state’s driver’s license bureau or the Social Security office."[24] African-Americans counted for 66% of the rejected voters. [25] On a recording made by a progressive group he can be heard saying "Democrats are working hard, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines."[24]

Electoral history[edit]

Georgia State Senate 46th District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 17,504 50.7
Democratic Doug Haines (inc.) 17,015 49.3
Georgia State Senate 46th District Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp (inc.) 29,424 51.6
Democratic Becky Vaughn 27,617 48.4
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Black 153,568 42
Republican Brian Kemp 97,113 27
Republican Bob Greer 57,813 16
Republican Deana Strickland 54,318 15
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Black 101,274 60
Republican Brian Kemp 67,509 40
Georgia Secretary of State Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 361,304 59.2
Republican Doug MacGinnitie 248,911 40.8
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 1,440,188 56.4
Democratic Georganna Sinkfield 1,006,411 39.4
Libertarian David Chastain 106,123 4.2
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp (inc.) 1,452,554 57.47
Democratic Doreen Carter 1,075,101 42.53
Georgia Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Casey Cagle 236,498 39.0
Republican Brian Kemp 154,913 25.5
Republican Hunter Hill 111,207 18.3
Republican Clay Tippins 74,053 12.2
Republican Michael Williams 29,544 4.9
Republican Eddie Hayes 739 0.1
Georgia Gubernatorial Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 406,638 69.45
Republican Casey Cagle 178,877 30.55


  1. ^ Ford, Wayne. "Athens Academy observes 50th anniversary". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  2. ^ "Alums Kalupe Booze '11 and Joe Tillman '87 Lead Middle School Spartans to Championship". Athens Academy. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  3. ^ Owens, Baker. "A Collegial Look at the Georgia Governor's Race". Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  4. ^ Prengel, Kate. "Marty Kemp, Brian's Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved 25 July 2018. 
  5. ^ "Brian P. Kemp". Georgia Building Authority. Retrieved 23 May 2018. 
  6. ^ "Bob Argo". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved June 1, 2018. 
  7. ^ "office of brian p kemp". Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved May 23, 2018. 
  9. ^ "". Retrieved May 23, 2018. 
  10. ^ "". Retrieved May 23, 2018. 
  11. ^ "". Retrieved June 5, 2018. 
  12. ^ "". Retrieved June 5, 2018. 
  13. ^ "GA – Election Results". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved 23 May 2018. 
  14. ^ a b c "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-25. 
  15. ^ "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  16. ^ Uchill, Joe (27 June 2017). "Investigation shows DHS did not hack Georgia computers". Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  17. ^ "Georgia voters to get credit monitoring in massive data breach". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. December 11, 2015. 
  18. ^ "The Georgia taxpayer cost for Brian Kemp's data breach is starting to mount". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. December 15, 2015. 
  19. ^ "'My enemy is not a man': Ex-gubernatorial candidate has 'mission' to damage Cagle". mcclatchydc. Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  20. ^ a b c "Abrams-Kemp Georgia gov race matchup sets up a sharp November contrast". politics.myajc. Retrieved 2018-08-07. 
  21. ^ "Georgia governor candidate aims gun at teen in campaign ad. 'Get over it,' he tells critics". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-26. 
  22. ^ "Georgia gubernatorial candidate takes heat for ad where he points shotgun toward teen". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-07-26. 
  23. ^ Bluestein, Greg (July 18, 2018). "Trump endorses Brian Kemp in Georgia GOP gov race". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved July 18, 2018. 
  24. ^ a b c Carol Anderson (August 11, 2018). "Brian Kemp, Enemy of Democracy". New York Times. 
  25. ^ "More Than 380,000 Georgia Voters Receive 'Purge Notice'". Rewire. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 

External links[edit]

Georgia State Senate
Preceded by
Doug Haines
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 46th district

January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Succeeded by
Bill Cowsert
Political offices
Preceded by
Karen Handel
Secretary of State of Georgia
January 8, 2010 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Karen Handel
Republican nominee for Secretary of State of Georgia
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Brad Raffensperger
Preceded by
Nathan Deal
Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia
Most recent