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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Why Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stands alone on masks - The Washington Post

"In a campaign ad in 2018 boasting that he was “so conservative,” Brian Kemp brandished a chain saw and declared his tool “ready to rip up some regulation.”

Two years later, the regulation to which Georgia’s Republican governor is turning his attention is a municipal order requiring people to wear masks in Atlanta, among other precautions designed to arrest transmission of the novel coronavirus, which has sickened nearly 150,000 Georgians.
Now, Kemp’s instrument is not a chain saw. Instead, he is wielding a lawsuit and request for an injunction barring the city’s Democratic mayor and contender for the vice presidential nomination, Keisha Lance Bottoms, from enforcing her ordinance or speaking to the media about her authority to do so.
The complaint — filed in Fulton County Superior Court, where a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning — marks the latest flash point over face coverings, which help block the airborne particles and tiny droplets that spread the deadly virus but are seen by some conservatives and anti-government activists as “medical tyranny.” The legal contest also exposes in newly stark terms the standoff between Republican governors and the Democratic mayors of the biggest cities in their states, which could be some of the hardest-fought battlegrounds in the November election.
Kemp, dogged by claims of voter suppression in the 2018 election that he refereed as Georgia’s secretary of state, has embraced his role as an avatar for these conflicts, which are flaring during the health emergency. He has eschewed expert consensus, frequently casting his response to the pandemic in ideological terms reminiscent of his incendiary campaign ads.
“He is of the mind-set that people don’t require government to tell them what to do,” said Doc Eldridge, who developed a rapport with Kemp in the 1990s when Eldridge was a district commissioner and then mayor of Athens-Clarke County and Kemp was working as a local developer, before he ran for a state Senate seat in 2002.
Kemp, who reported a net worth of $5.2 million in 2018, does not believe, Eldridge said, “that government is the answer to all of our problems.”
Why Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stands alone on masks - The Washington Post

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