DALTON, Ga. — Secretary of State Brian Kemp says if voters want a blueprint for what his administration as governor would be like, all they have to do is look at the results within his department of the state government.
“I think that is the big difference between myself and the other people who are running is that I have a record of fundamentally reforming the secretary of state’s office, so people can trust me to do that as their governor,” Kemp, a Republican, said Thursday during a visit to Dalton. “We have absolutely reformed and restructured the whole agency to make it more efficient. We are doing more work for less money with less people, which is exactly what Republicans talk about.”
He said by embracing technology and making the business registrations and licensing handled by his office more computer friendly, the entire department has been streamlined, saving those who need the department's services both time and money
“Our system is literally saving the taxpayers millions of dollars,” Kemp said.
Kemp was appointed secretary of state in 2010 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. He has since won statewide elections to retain the post in 2010 and 2014. Kemp, a native of Athens and a small-business owner who served a term in the state Senate, is expected to be in a crowded Republican primary race to succeed Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who is completing his second term.
Kemp addressed a gathering of supporters at a lunchtime meet-and-greet at the Dalton Distillery and later met with the Daily Citizen-News for an interview. In the evening, Kemp was scheduled for another campaign event in LaFayette.
Attendees at the Dalton Distillery event heard Kemp outline his four points for Georgia and the keys to his campaign — small-business development, focused rural Georgia initiatives, reforming state government and pushing hard against illegal immigration.
Vann Brown and David Renz organized the event at the Dalton Distillery, and Brown said he has had contact with the secretary of state's office through various businesses over the years.
“I have known him (Kemp) for a long time, and you won’t find a better person to have to deal with,” Brown said. “Small business is the backbone of our state and our economy, and I don’t think there is anyone in state government that understands that like Brian.”
Kemp said as secretary of state he has been out across Georgia addressing issues of working businessmen and understands the growth and development of metro Atlanta and the needs for stimulus for rural Georgia.
“I believe I am safe in saying that I am the only candidate that has visited all 159 counties with a real stop and visit,” Kemp said. “Really just trying to learn about this state as a whole as a statewide elected official, that is really what is driving this campaign for governor.”
And even though he has been in the Senate and won two statewide races, Kemp says he still considers himself to be a political outsider.
“I ran for the state Senate the first time as an outsider and a small businessman frustrated with the government and really wanted to change it and bring a common-sense, business-owners mentality and fight for working Georgians,” he said. “That is what has driven me ever since.
"The biggest thing is I am not a career politician," he said. "I am a businessman. I have been a businessman every single day I have been in office. That is the mentality I take in there. I am frustrated with government and I know the people are. I want them to know they will have a person literally fighting for them every day to make change and do what I promise them to do."