COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — During Sunday night’s WSB-TV debate in Atlanta, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams took aim at Georgia sheriffs, a majority of which are supporting her opponent, Gov. Brian Kemp.
“As I have pointed out before, I am not a member of the Good ol’ Boys Club. So, no I don’t have 107 sheriffs who want to be able to take black people off the streets, who want to be able to go without accountability,” Abrams said. “I don’t believe that every Sheriff wants that. But I do know that we need a governor who believes in both defending law enforcement, but also defending the people of Georgia.”
That drew a sharp response Monday from one of those sheriffs, Harris County’s Mike Jolley, who was attending a Kemp campaign event in Newnan.
“That shows her lack of knowledge of what we do in law enforcement,” Jolley told WRBL. “The sheriffs don’t lock up black people, or white people, or Asian people. We lock up criminals. If you make a mistake or break the law, we put you in jail.”
Kemp was asked about his response during that afternoon campaign stop at Sprayberry’s Barbecue in Newnan.
“… To call a sheriff a part of the Good Ol’ Boy network, I think is an injustice,” Kemp said. “We are proud of the support we have from Democrat and Republican sheriffs. We have been on the front lines with them. We continue to have their back. And I will let her answer any questions about her statements in the debate.”
The Abrams campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Kemp was asked if he was surprised by his opponent’s debate comment.
“Nothing surprises me that Stacey Abrams says,” Kemp said. “She has been all over the place on all kinds of issues.”
The Georgia Sheriff’s Association put out a release through the Kemp campaign late Monday saying the state’s sheriff’s were disappointed in Abrams’ comments.
Here’s what the statement from Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, president of the Georgia Sheriffs Association, said.
“Stacey Abrams’ comments about Georgia sheriffs in Sunday night’s debate are exactly the type of false, demoralizing, and offensive accusations that have driven good men and women away from the law enforcement profession. The sheriffs, sheriff deputies, police officers, and other members of our community are brave individuals who wake up every day to put their lives on the line for everyone in their community – no matter their race, background, or walk of life. To suggest otherwise is insulting and outrageous. As president of the Georgia Sheriffs Association, I was incredibly disappointed to hear what Ms. Abrams had to say about the sheriffs of our state, and I hope she will do the right thing and immediately apologize to Georgia’s law enforcement community.”
During the campaign event in Newnan, Kemp said the number of sheriffs supporting him had risen from 107 to 111.