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Kemp sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd governor
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Governor-Elect Brian Kemps speaks to a crowd during a Georgians First pre-inaguration celebration on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Austin Steele

Republican Brian Kemp was sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd governor in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Monday.

Kemp, 56, took the oath of office at a university stadium before the GOP faithful, state lawmakers, lobbyists and members of Kemp’s Cabinet and family. The University of Georgia Orchestra played patriotic songs and Kemp’s eldest daughter, Jarrett Kemp, 19, delivered the invocation before her dad placed his hand on the Bible and took his oath.

Kemp rose from underdog status as Georgia secretary of state to clinch a Republican primary runoff with tough talk on immigration and a nod from President Donald Trump.

Kemp has promised to pursue conservative policies as governor, including tough abortion restrictions and a “religious freedom” bill that critics say would damage the state’s economy by allowing discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens. He struck a conciliatory tone in his inaugural address, saying he will work hard to represent all Georgians.

After his swearing-in Monday, Kemp said that while Georgia appears like a divided state “through the prism of politics,” residents in reality have “so much in common.”

But state Democrats indicated they weren’t ready to put the rancorous election behind them.

Away from the festivities, Democratic Party of Georgia chair DuBose Porter issued a statement calling Kemp’s inauguration a “dark day in Georgia’s history.”

Kemp, who doubled as Georgia’s chief elections officer during his campaign , has vehemently denied accusations of voter suppression, pointing to record-setting voter registration numbers.

But Porter’s statement calls Kemp’s victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams illegitimate and slams his campaign as “built on hate.”

A political group Abrams founded is challenging the way Georgia elections are run in federal court, alleging “gross mismanagement” under Kemp.

Kemp is 56 and a native of Athens, Georgia. He and his wife, Marty, have three teenage daughters.