DALTON, Ga. — Gov.-elect Brian Kemp went to the Dalton Golf & Country Club Saturday morning to thank Northwest Georgia voters for helping him win a contentious election for the state's top public office in an overwhelmingly Republican region.
The Republican, who is set to be sworn into office Monday, gave a 5-minute speech focused almost entirely on thanking voters and area politicians who had helped get him elected. Kemp received some of his most overwhelming support in the area. More than 70 percent of votes in each Northwest Georgia county went for Kemp.
"It was very important for us and for me personally to come to Northwest Georgia," Kemp said. " We did want to touch all four corners of our state and a little bit in between to let people know, you know, we know how hard you work for us. We thank you for your support in this transition."
The governor-elect won election against Democrat Stacey Abrams by approximately 50,000 votes of the roughly 4 million that were cast. Abrams' campaign and allies spent more than a week fighting to try to force a December runoff. Abrams eventually acknowledged Kemp would be sworn in as governor but said she would not concede.
The Dalton visit was the final appearance in a nine-stop Georgians First Committee celebration tour that stretched Wednesday through Saturday. During the speech, Kemp took exception with Atlanta media outlets for criticizing the governor-elect for not discussing policy issues in-depth.
"The Atlanta media writes many times and says, you know, 'Nobody knows what his agenda is and he's not rolling out any plans.' Well, I've been talking about it for two years. It's not that complicated," Kemp said before turning his attention back to thanking voters, first responders, law enforcement and others.
Kemp's is eager to get Monday's inauguration behind him so he can begin his term as governor.
"Just know this: We are ready to go to work," he said. "This planning [is] about the size of a royal wedding, I think; I think I've had enough of it. We're ready to go to work."
It's an attitude that drove many Georgia residents to vote for Kemp.
State representatives and other locals reiterated through the morning that it was Kemp's working-man attitude that earned their vote.
"His honesty and him being a down-to-Earth guy," Dalton resident Rodney Kendrick said when asked why he supported Kemp. "The first time I ever met him he had blue jeans on. That means a lot. He's somebody we can trust."
Northwest Georgians in attendance were hopeful Kemp will create a pro-business environment. That was a central them for most of the the more than 100 guests in attendance. Kemp was met by a representative of the carpet industry following the speech, who presented the soon-to-be governor with a door mat with the governor-elect's name and logo.
"Our industry is an economic engine for the state, and we believe we have a governor who will continue to make this a priority in our state and ensure our citizens have good jobs," said Joe Yarborough, with the Carpet and Rug Institute.
Yarborough is hopeful the governor-elect will uphold campaign promises and create policies beneficial for area businesses.