Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was greeted with boos from the crowd as he was introduced at the state GOP convention, a reminder from avid supporters of former President Donald Trump that refusing to take claims of widespread voter fraud seriously could impact the governor's reelection chances in 2022.
Upon the boos softening at Saturday's convention, Kemp was able to highlight his gubernatorial accomplishments, which included the new election reform law and Georgia being the first state to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, which garnered him praise from the convention's attendees.
.@BrianKempGA greeted at the Ga GOP convention with loud boos. He was speaking for about 30 seconds before it was quiet enough to hear him from the press area. But he got his first full applause when he mentioned Georgia being the first state to reopen during the pandemic. #gapol pic.twitter.com/4LcgRqkvoO— Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) June 5, 2021
Georgia's election integrity law was passed by GOP lawmakers following concerns in the 2020 election about the validity of casted votes, specifically those coming from mail-in ballots. The law requires identification to vote, extends the early voting period, ensures a ballot drop box will be available in every county and bars partisan groups from passing out food and water to voters at the polls.
Companies such as Major League Baseball and Coca-Cola have boycotted the state over the election integrity law.
The passage of the legislation follows Trump's claims that voter fraud was the reason he lost to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Trump said the Georgia voting law was "too weak."
Kemp has been at odds with the former president and his base ever since he certified the state's 16 electoral votes for Biden, and again following Georgia's recount. Trump has repeatedly criticized the governor for not indulging in assertions of a stolen election.
A Georgia Republican campaigning to unseat Kemp in 2022, former Democrat Vernon Jones, called the governor a "RINO," Republican in name only, at the convention for not endorsing Trump's election fraud claims. Jones receiving applause for backing Trump's claims of widespread fraud signals the former president's stronghold on the Republican Party, showing that being an opposition could turn out to be a losing move.
Trump said in January that he would campaign against Kemp.
At the event, Kemp refrained from mentioning the former president and instead attempted to unify Republicans, pointing out the power Democrats have in Hollywood and elsewhere.
"We must be strong and courageous," he said. "They’ve got Hollywood. They’ve got billionaires in New York and California. ... That is why we have to be united as well and move forward together."
Kemp has tackled issues vital to the GOP: tax cuts, new abortion restrictions currently under court review, relaxed pandemic restrictions to keep the economy open and opposing critical race theory being taught to students in Georgia public schools.
Kevin Gough, a delegate from Glynn County, the site of the convention, had high praise for the governor, saying that the boos "don't speak for the whole party."
"He has delivered time and time again on what Republican voters want, whether it’s pro-life issues, fiscal issues, whatever," he said.
Editor's note: This story has been updated.