AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Means Report welcomes the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp. He has been a guest on The Means Report since before he took office, and he returns to talk about vaccine distribution, to look at the citizens arrest overhaul, and teacher legislation.
Brad Means: Governor Kemp, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us. We do appreciate it. I wanna begin just by getting you to talk about something that’s been in the headlines, certainly the past week or so. And that’s the car crash involving Tiger Woods. A man who puts the State of Georgia in the spotlight every year at the Masters. Your thoughts on the recovery he now faces.
We all certainly have Tiger in our thoughts and prayers. I know, just from what I’ve read and kind of seeing nationally, a really bad car accident. I think, as one of the law enforcement personnel said, he’s lucky to be alive. So we certainly wish him the best in his recovery. And on the flip side of that we’re certainly looking forward to having a little bit normal Masters this year.
Brad Means: No, I agree with you. We certainly are. The whole region here around Augusta is excited. All right, so let’s get to other things that have happened since our last conversation. And it’s been too long. The first question is, “How is your relationship with President Trump?” It doesn’t seem great right now.
Well, listen, I worked hard for President Trump going into November 3rd. As hard as anybody in the State of Georgia did. I was disappointed with the outcome like many people were, but I supported his legal efforts after the election, which every candidate has the right to do per our laws in the state. But at the end of the day I also had to follow the laws in the constitution that I put my hand on a Bible and took an oath to defend. And that’s exactly what I did. I worked hard in the run-off for Senator Perdue and Senator Loeffler. And you know, quite honestly people got distracted on our side, on the Republican side and we lost those races. But I think it’s a good lesson for us going into the future, Brad. That we’ve gotta stay focused on the issues that Georgians care about. Our legislative candidates that I worked hard for on the Republican side. Also leading up to November. We had a really good night, November 3rd. Our Senate candidates cross-state got 53% of the vote. Our House candidates got over 51% of the vote because we ran and talked to Georgians about the agenda that we’ve worked on here at the State Capitol together. Over the last two years, largest teacher pay raise in state history. Fighting the pandemic but also reopening the economy to have the number one state in the country for business.
Brad Means: Well, and I do wanna talk about some of those issues as we go on, but let’s just stay with Trump just for a moment longer. You have to run, if you so choose, for re-election in two short years. He said he’s ashamed he endorsed you the first time. I know you know all this. The question is, do you need his endorsement for a second term as governor?
Well, Brian I’m definitely gonna be running for re-election. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to running on my record and what we’ve done in Georgia over the last two years that, quite honestly, that agenda did very well on November 3rd. I learned a long time ago in politics you can’t control what other things, what other people do, or outside groups do. You can only control what you can do and that’s what I’m focused on. And I’m looking forward to running on that record. I think it will be a very successful one.
Brad Means: Governor Kemp, one year coming up. One year since Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed down in Brunswick, Georgia. There was a vigil here in Waynesboro just last night. In recent days, you have pushed to get rid of the Citizens Arrest Law. This is a law that the accused in this case are using as part of their defense. That they were trying to make a citizens arrest. What happens when you get rid of that law? What does day-to-day life in Georgia look like when someone tries to do what’s currently a citizen’s arrest?
Well, first of all, we all saw injustice with our own eyes in incidents of Ahmaud Arbery here in the State of Georgia and down in Glenn County. And what happened down there to use the Civil Rights, or Civil War era statue of citizens arrest in a defense, to me is just… I don’t think anybody that watches that video believes that. But the fact is it is an antiquated statute. And when we talk to law enforcement prosecutors it hasn’t been used hardly at all in recent memory. Therefore we’re going to repeal it, but we’re also gonna replace it to make sure that Georgians have the protections that they need to protect themselves and to protect their property. And that our business owners can do the same thing and detain someone If they dine and dash, gas and go-
Brad Means: Uh-hmm.
Shop-lifting, or if they break in your home, you’ll be able to detain someone until law enforcement arrives. But it will stop this modern day vigilantism that we saw happen, where somebody’s hunted down and gunned down in the middle of a public road. And it also won’t hinder our law enforcement as well, Brad.
Brad Means: Yeah.
And I’ll tell you, this legislation has broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats. But not only that, broad support from law enforcement. Many sheriffs and prosecutors, GBI State Patrol and others as well that support this measure. So, I do believe it’ll tackle the issue, but also preserve the right for Georgians to defend themselves, their property and their businesses.
Brad Means: Yeah, the Arbery-family has such deep ties to the CSRA. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on that. Couple more quick topics during our limited time with you today. And one is, “Teachers and the vaccine.” Governor Kemp, do you see any situation where the teachers get bumped up and get their shots sooner?
Well, I will say we’re a lot closer to approving the next phase of the vaccine distribution and opening that up somewhat. I mean, certainly, I wanna get teachers vaccinated as much as anyone. I think it’s important for Georgians to know that we are following the data and the science here. And that’s based on my discussions with Dr. Toomey and the rest of our team. 85% Of our COVID deaths in the state have happened to those 60 years of age and older. And that is who we’re targeting right now. Obviously with early RIC recommendation to CDC and others in Washington for law enforcement, first responders and obviously those that are on the front lines, fighting COVID from a medical perspective. Our doctors, nurses, public health workers and other front-facing folks that have been fighting COVID-19 for a year now. But we’re getting very close to expanding that population. Hopefully we’ll have some news in the next couple of days. But really that is gonna be solely based on our ability to have more supply. We feel like any day we’re gonna be getting word from the Biden Administration that Johnson & Johnson’s gonna be approved, or we’re gonna have Pfizer and Moderna. Their supplies continue to increase with manufacturing efficiencies that they’re gaining in making the vaccine. So I feel like we’re in a really good spot but it’s gonna get better. And my priority is to get teachers and also other frontline workers. I mean, we’re hearing from a lot of people, agriculture workers that need to get crops out of the fields, so they don’t ruin, grocery store clerks and others that have been on the front lines, working during the pandemic the whole time. And that’s what we’re gonna do. I will say, I was a little bit surprised that the survey that came back from the Department of Education, that there was only a 45% positive rate of teachers that actually wanted, or educators, I guess, it wasn’t just teachers, but educators, that actually would take the vaccine. So that demand there is, I don’t think, as much as I think some of the news media and the public has made it out to be. But that being said, I’m a firm believer our kids need to be in school, in person. They could be doing that right now, vaccine or not. That’s what the data and the science shows. It’s what the CDC says, even though the Biden Administration has been flip-flopping on the messaging depending on how press are getting via the National Teacher’s Union.
Brad Means: Uh-hmm.
In Georgia people should know, we are following the data and the science.
Brad Means: Well Governor Kemp, I can’t thank you enough for your hard work. As we all strive to get people to get those shots and reach herd immunity. And again, thank you for your efforts to get Georgia through this pandemic and for spending time with us today.
All right, great to be on with you, Brad. And I’ll just say in closing that Augusta University and the folks in the CSRA are doing a great job getting the vaccine out. We’re going to send them more supplies as soon as we get it.
Brad Means: Oh, that’s wonderful news. Governor Brian Kemp, thank you. Have a great rest of your day.