Kemp, GOP chair predict tough fight as Dems stream online convention

    Just ahead of the Democrat's online convention Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp predicted the GOP is in for a tough election fight to fend off gains by Democrats in November. Kemp's shown here with President Donald Trump during a stopover in July. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

    Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and the state GOP chairman said they expect a hard-fought battle over Georgia’s 16 electoral votes this fall as a new poll puts President Donald Trump neck-and-neck with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

    The pair participated in a call with reporters Monday as the virtual Democratic National Convention kicked off with several high-profile Georgians – including two labeled rising stars in the party – set to help rally Democrats around Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

    Trump holds a narrow lead over Biden in Georgia with about 47%, according to a new WSB-TV/Landmark Communications poll. Biden is just shy of 45%, which is within the poll’s margin of error. Trump won Georgia by about 5 percentage points in 2016.

    “It’s going to be a fight everywhere around the country. It’s a huge election. The contrast, quite honestly, couldn’t be clearer, but I believe that Georgians will reelect Donald Trump to continue the reopening of America and the promises, quite honestly – that he kept when he was elected,” Kemp said.

    David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said “there’s no question the elections are going to be close.” But he said he senses “enormous enthusiasm for the president.” Shafer said the party had recruited and trained nearly 8,000 volunteers.

    The Republican National Committee has not yet announced what its lineup will like next week when the party backs Trump’s bid for a second term. But the Democratic National Convention, which started Monday, will feature several Georgians.

    Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Sam Park, a Lawrenceville Democrat, are among 17 “rising stars” from across the country who will give the keynote address Tuesday, according to a DNC release. Elected in 2016, Park is the first openly gay man elected to the state Legislature.

    Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump for refusing to defend the president’s travel ban against people from Muslim countries coming to America, is also scheduled to speak Tuesday.

    Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and MARTA bus driver Natasha Taylor, who pushed for more protections for frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic, will speak Thursday, the last night of the convention.

    Jill Nolin
    Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.