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Republicans talk top issues in battle for Georgia governor's seat

We spoke to Gov. Brian Kemp, former U.S. Senator David Perdue, and former state Representative Vernon Jones about their campaigns.

MACON, Ga. — In just four months, Republican candidates will face off in the primary election. 13WMAZ's Ashlyn Webb spoke with the gubernatorial candidates to find out issues most important to them as the campaign starts to heat up.

Georgia's 2020 election is still a top talking point for two Republicans hoping to be the state's next governor.

Former U.S. Senator David Perdue and former state Representative Vernon Jones question how Gov. Brian Kemp handled President Donald Trump's challenge to the election results.

"What I've claimed is there have not been any outside, independent investigations. Yes, we've heard the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State all brag about 'Yeah, it was a clean election,' but they have not demonstrated that with outside objective evidence," said Perdue. 

"Brian Kemp has let this state down. He cut and ran on election integrity. He refused an audit where people just wanted their questions answered. No one is trying to overturn the election. They just want to make sure it was a free fair and transparent election," said Jones.

Election integrity is a top issue for both Perdue and Jones, but Gov. Kemp says he's addressed the 2020 election by signing Senate Bill 202. He claims the law secures Georgia's elections and makes voting more accessible.

Kemp says he's running on his record; highlighting how he's handled the COVID-19 pandemic and economic development. His platform also heavily focuses on public safety and gun rights, like constitutional carry.

"The bad guys and the people who shouldn't have guns. They're the ones that shouldn't have them. What we're trying to do is that law-abiding citizens that simply want to protect themselves and their property and their business can do the same," said Kemp.

Perdue and Jones both say they're running with the promise of cutting state income tax.

Jones says he wants to protect "Georgia values." He highlighted only allowing women to compete in female sports and banning the teaching of "Critical Race Theory" within Georgia's public schools.

Between continued speculation about 2020 election results and former President Trump's endorsement of Perdue, some experts claim there's a divide in Georgia's Republican Party.

We asked the candidates about the state of the Republican Party moving into the primary. Both Perdue and Jones say the party is divided, and they blame Gov. Kemp for the division.

"We have a divided party right now. The conservatives are divided. I don't think he's [Kemp's] going to be able to bring them together. I think I have a better shot at doing that," said Perdue.

"I can hold the line with Republican voters. Get them enthused to come out and at the same time I'm able to take away from the Democrats' column," said Jones said when asked how he would unite the party given he formerly identified as a Democrat.

However, Kemp has repeatedly claimed the party is not divided. 

"A lot of folks in the media talk about the party being divided, I don't really see it that way," Kemp said, talking about what he's heard from supporters on the campaign trail. "The feedback I'm getting is Republicans are uniting. They are excited about 2022."

Two other people are also currently running in the Republican race: Kandiss Taylor and Catherine Davis.

According to Taylor's campaign website; Jesus, guns, babies, and conservative values are at the core of her platform.

Davis is concerned with election integrity, protecting infant life in the womb, and parents' right to select a school, according to her campaign website

The Republican primary is May 24. So far, Stacey Abrams is the only Democrat to announce a run for governor.

RELATED: Should Georgia eliminate income tax? There might be more consequences than you think

RELATED: 'This law is different and extraordinary' | Expert explains Perdue's lawsuit against Gov. Kemp's new campaign finance law

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