Nineteen months before Georgia's 2018 general election, candidates for governor are stepping up around the state.

One of the Republican hopefuls, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, made a campaign swing through Macon Thursday to discuss the race.

Kemp said a major issue is his desire to grow small businesses in rural areas.

"I've been a conservative small business owner for over 30 years, which is what really drove me to government in the first place," Kemp said. "I had kind of had enough and been fed up with high taxes and burdensome ridiculous government regulations, and that's exactly why I want to be governor."

If his campaign is successful, Kemp said he'll take a chain saw to the existing regulations and help small businesses instead of hamper them. Kemp said business people would help put those regulations together, not bureaucrats.

Kemp's small businesses consist of agribusiness, financial services and real estate management and investment.

Other issues discussed during his campaign stop include whether to grow medical marijuana in Georgia and the possibility of bringing casinos to Georgia. Kemp said he's keeping an eye on state Rep. Allen Peake's efforts to get marijuana grown and distributed in Georgia.

Peake, a Macon Republican, plans to push the measure again during the 2018 legislative session.

On casinos, Kemp said he's watching the issue closely.

"My first blush is that I'm not real sure that is something that I want our state to be known for," Kemp said. "We've got so many good things going on, I worry that the idea of having a destination resort might spread into having, you know, multiple destinations or multiple venues that maybe aren't destinations."

Kemp is one of several Republicans expected to run for governor next year. Others possible candidates include Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston and state Sen. Burt Jones.

Gov. Nathan Deal can't seek a third term due to term limits.