brian kemp
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. Credit: Kemp for Governor/YouTube

Rolling Stone has obtained an audio recording of Brian Kemp speaking at a ticketed campaign event. Here’s what he told supporters:

Not long after Kemp began his remarks, the candidate expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they [the Abrams camp] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

Kemp then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. “They have just an unprecedented number of that,” he said, “which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.”

Imagine that. The man who currently serves as Georgia’s secretary of state (while being the Republican candidate for governor) is expressing “concern” over people exercising their right to vote. Most of us would assume that the major priority of someone in that position is to ensure that the people of their state can exercise their right to vote. Not Brian Kemp, he’s worried about that happening.

Of course, all of this is being tied to Kemp’s long career of attempting to suppress the vote. But his supporters will suggest that he covered his tracks by affirming that everyone “absolutely can” exercise their right to vote.

So what is the concern that Kemp is addressing? It’s a bit confusing because, on the one hand, he said that he’s worried about what happens if “everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” but on the other hand, he says that “we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.” How much heavier can turnout be than everyone voting?

The best explanation is probably that a candidate like Kemp doesn’t always make sense—he’s obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But behind the jumbled thinking, it is pretty clear that Kemp is aware of the fact that if more Georgians exercised their right to vote, he’d lose. That’s what he’s worried about—and why he has worked so hard to suppress the votes of people of color.

Republicans constantly give up their game on this whole voter suppression scheme. In his own way, that’s what Kemp just did. He knows that if voter mobilization drives—like the ones his opponent Stacey Abrams has been working on for years—are successful, his days are numbered.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.