Political Insider

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Kemp takes a different approach in general election TV debut   


Brian Kemp ditched the power tools, pickup trucks and pyrotechnics for his first TV ad in the general election. Instead, the Republican took a sunnier, and more conventional, approach in the 30-second spot that debuted Friday. 

Smiling at the camera, the secretary of state talked about job growth and “locally controlled education” in the ad, which was a departure from the more provocative messages that helped fuel his rise to the GOP nomination for governor. 

In those spots, he pointed a shotgun toward a young “Jake” attempting to date his daughter, revved up a chainsaw to demonstrate his promise to cut regulations and vowed to “round up criminal illegals” in his pickup truck.

In this one, he made only a glancing mention of his conservative stances on illegal immigration and other divisive issues. Consider this line, which hints at his promise to crackdown on illegal immigration.

"I believe in helping our most vulnerable but requiring work from those who can,” he says. “And as always, rewarding legal - not illegal - behavior.”

It’s part of his effort to shift his message to appeal to a broader electorate after a divisive primary that quickly became a race to his party’s conservative flanks. 

Democratic Party of Georgia chair DuBose Porter said it’s tantamount to an “admission of just how reckless his real agenda is” and that Georgians won’t forget his earlier ads.

“He will forever be known as the guy who cranked up a chainsaw, blew up stuff and recklessly pointed a gun at a teenager,” said Porter. 

Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, has had her own optimistic ad running for weeks with an assist from the state party. 

And outside groups are just beginning to ratchet up their spending. The Republican Governors Association has already launched three ads attacking Abrams. 

Watch the ad here: 


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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.