Speaker stumps for Kemp

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The leaders of both houses of the Georgia General Assembly gave their support Friday to Karen Kemp, a local Republican who is challenging longtime Democratic State Rep. Winfred Dukes for the House District 150 seat Nov. 2.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, R-Gainesville, both endorsed Kemp during a fundraiser Friday at Doublegate Country Club.

Calling it one of "the most important races of the year," Ralston urged the 70 or so in attendance to redouble their efforts to get Kemp a job in Atlanta.

"Ask yourself and your neighbor if you want to have a place at the table when all of the power is being divided and the districts are being drawn up this year, then you need to double up and work hard to get Karen Kemp to Atlanta," Ralston said, referring to the General Assembly's once-per-decade chore of redrawing district lines based on census figures.

Cagle, who stopped in briefly Friday, said Kemp is the only person in the race to represent conservative values.

"It's a real pivotal time for our country and in our state, and we need good, conservative folks to represent our values and our views in Atlanta. And Karen is that person in Albany," Cagle said.

The race for the District 150 House seat has largely been lost in the political rhetoric as vocal voters have focused on the U.S.

congressional race between longtime incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Republican challenger Mike Keown, R-Coolidge.

Kemp, however, faces a daunting task in unseating Dukes, who has had the support of the local constituency since he first took office in 1996. Now the senior member of the local legislative delegation, Dukes has helped to maintain a voice for local Democrats even after the Republicans took control of the state government earlier in the decade.

Friday, she told supporters that she would work to solve the state's economic problems through continued scrutiny of state spending, but added that "spending on police officers and public safety should be a priority."