Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Critics blast Kemp for posing for photo with anti-Muslim extremist


Brian Kemp’s critics demanded he apologize for a photo that surfaced Friday that featured him posing with an anti-Muslim extremist who wore a shirt that read: “Allah is not God, and Mohammad is not his prophet.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued the call after it highlighted the undated photo of Kemp posing with James Stachowiak, whom the group labeled a “notorious anti-Muslim extremist.” 

On Friday, Kemp’s campaign declined to comment on the photo, which CAIR posted here. The Republican is in a tight race for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom he’s branded an extremist for her progressive platform and out-of-state support. 

On Saturday, Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney said, “Brian Kemp takes hundreds of photos a day while traveling the state. It’s ridiculous to think he should be held responsible for the beliefs of every person who wants to snap a picture with him. Brian Kemp stands against hatred. He believes we should treat all people with respect.”

The Democratic Party of Georgia amplified the criticism. Party chair DuBose Porter said the photo “tells you everything you need to know about the kind of governor he would be” and blasted Kemp for not condemning Stachowiak’s views. 

“Georgians of all races will not stand for Brian Kemp's backward-looking agenda,” he added. 

Stachowiak is well-known to law enforcement and civil rights groups. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center called him a “longtime militia organizer and foul-mouthed talk show host” who called for armed resistance if the government tries to confiscate firearms. 

The Georgia Capitol police put out a notice in April 2016 warning that he was planning an un-permitted anti-Islam rally to shred the Koran

He also sparked outrage after he harassed a U.S. Air Force veteran speaking on behalf of Abrams at an Augusta event earlier this year.

And Al-Jazeera reports he’s called on the U.S. military to bomb Islamic holy sites, urged people to fire on Black Lives Matters protesters and destroyed copies of the Quran in front of Georgia mosques. 

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After just wrapping up a second bus tour of the month, Republican Brian Kemp unveiled plans for a final weeklong “road to victory” swing starting on Monday.

His previous bus tours skirted metro Atlanta and other urban areas in favor of a string of mostly rural stops. This tour takes a different approach. 

He’ll crisscross Republican-friendly territory in north Georgia at the start of the tour before hitting multiple stops in Atlanta’s suburbs. Visits to metro Columbus, Macon, Augusta, Savannah and Valdosta – some with Vice President Mike Pence - are also on the books. 

Democrat Stacey Abrams will soon unveil the itinerary of her last stretch of visits before the Nov. 6 election. 

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A Friday night surprise: Stacey Abrams’ campaign staffers and Democratic operatives got a pep talk on a conference call by former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates. 

A former Atlanta federal prosecutor, Yates became a hero to the left after she was fired by President Donald Trump for refusing to defend his travel ban

She has since re-joined the Atlanta-based law firm where she began her career – and has remained a vocal critic of Trump’s policies. 


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.