Georgia’s Republican governor, who has been on the receiving end of scathing criticism from President Trump over the handling of the 2020 election, pushed back on Monday, reminding the outgoing president that state law prohibits him from “interfering” in elections.
Gov. Brian Kemp has become a frequent target of Trump after Georgia, a red state in the last several elections, flipped blue for President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 3.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted he was “ashamed” he endorsed Kemp in 2018. A day later, he called the GOP governor “hapless” and implored him to use nonexistent “emergency powers” to root out alleged election fraud and overturn state results that put Biden ahead of Trump by more than 12,000 votes.
“Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes. It will be a ‘goldmine’ of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state,” Trump tweeted.
Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes. It will be a “goldmine” of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
November 30, 2020
Kemp’s office on Monday largely pushed the election drama onto the shoulders of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger while maintaining that the governor has followed the rule of law.
“Georgia law prohibits the governor from interfering in elections,” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said. “The secretary of state, who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.”
Hall said Kemp “will continue to follow the law and encourage the secretary of state to take reasonable steps, including a sample audit of signatures, to restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised.”
Kemp, who rode on Trump’s coattails in 2018 to a narrow victory over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, has remained relatively quiet as Trump and his Republican allies have hammered Georgia’s top leaders.
Kemp has said that while he understands Trump’s “frustrations,” the law clearly sets out his duties as governor.
Trump’s criticism could come back to haunt Kemp during the 2022 elections. Until then, his stance and Trump’s near-constant complaints of a rigged election could hurt Republicans in a pair of crucial runoff races in January that will determine which party takes control of the Senate.
Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have already chosen sides and gone on the record to demand Raffensperger’s resignation.
They have also stood silently as Trump slammed Kemp and questioned the integrity of the state’s voting system.
Trump is scheduled to head to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler.