- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said state Republicans must "run like we're hungry again," per the AJC.
- Kemp made the remark at a campaign event in a state that has become an electoral battleground.
- Kemp is running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 race.
In November 2018, now-Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia won that year's gubernatorial contest over former Democratic state House minority leader Stacey Abrams by a 50.2%-48.8% margin — a narrow result in what used to be solidly Republican territory.
Two years later, President Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump in the state by roughly 12,000 votes in the 2020 election, with Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff winning the dual Senate runoff elections in January 2021.
The Peach State began to take on a hint of blue as it morphed into a purple battleground that has become truly competitive for both political parties.
And Kemp, who is again facing Abrams in a rematch this fall, recognizes that the Georgia of 2012 is not the Georgia of 2022.
During a recent campaign event in Toccoa, Ga., Kemp made the case that the upcoming election will test the strength of the GOP as the party must now compete in a state that has changed dramatically in recent years, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"We've been in control for a long time," the governor said at the event. "We've got to run like we're hungry again — like we did back in the mid-2000s."
He continued: "We've got to bring that mentality back, that work ethic back, and we have to have the ground game to do that as well. Quite honestly, the Democrats have beaten us at that game. But we're not going to let that happen in this election."
Many of the firmly Republican suburbs around Atlanta have taken on a bluer hue as some of those voters turned away from the GOP during the Trump presidency, but Kemp contended that the party must fight hard for their victories once again, similar to the drive they had to end generations of Democratic dominance in Atlanta.
Republicans have controlled the Governor's Mansion since 2003 and also assumed control of the Senate that year. The party would go on to win control of the state House of Representatives during the 2004 election, and has held the Speaker's gavel ever since.
Abrams, a prominent voting-rights activist, has been at the forefront of voter registration in Georgia for years and hopes those citizens can provide her with a boost this fall.
And Kemp, a former secretary of state, is trying to win reelection in a state that may have become more competitive, but still has a strong base of conservative voters — many of whom did not turn out in the 2021 runoffs.
This fall, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is seeking a full six-year term and will face Republican nominee Herschel Walker, a former NFL star and University of Georgia alum, in a key race that could determine which party controls the United States Senate.