Brian Kemp officially sworn in as Georgia's 83rd governor

ATLANTA — With his wife and three daughters by his side, Brian Kemp was sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd governor, laying out a plan he says will move the state forward in the years to come.

With handshakes and hugs, now former Gov. Nathan Deal handed over leadership of the state to Kemp.

Monday was a day full of events to celebrate the Peach State’s new top official. The day started with a prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead.

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach was part of the hundreds of people who filled the cathedral for the multi-denominational inaugural prayer service that lasted about 45 minutes.

It was filled with hymns and reading from scripture, but mostly prayers for the new governor and his family, who sat in the front row.

Attendees also heard from the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

The service also included a Jewish rabbi, Baptists, Methodists from all over the state and a prayer from Kemp’s pastor from his home church.

At 2 p.m., Kemp’s formal swearing-in ceremony took place in front of a packed crowd at McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech.

Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot watched as Kemp gave his inaugural speech. The new governor spoke of unifying the state after what turned out to be a bruising campaign season.

“We will put people ahead of divisive politics. We will be known as a state united. It can be done,” Kemp said to a massive round of applause.

Kemp took a much softer tone than he did during the election, offering up an olive branch to those who opposed him, promising to do what he can to bring the state together.

“We have so much in common, and as governor, I will fight for all Georgians, not just the ones who voted for me,” Kemp said.

The governor will now have to try to deliver on some of the promises he made during that campaign, including pay raises for teachers.

He also spoke about religious liberty legislation, something Virginia Galloway of the Faith and Freedom Coalition said is something to which Conservatives will hold him.

“We very much want to see that, and he talked about that during his campaign quite a bit. And it’s a very basic American right that everybody can appreciate. Everybody likes their First Amendment, right?” Galloway told Elliot.


But Kemp may run into others in the legislature, including the Speaker of the House, who said they have no interest in going through that debate again.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was also in attendance for the inauguration ceremony.

She told Elliot that she hopes Kemp will continue to work with her office, like his predecessor, for the benefit of the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia.

“I’m looking forward to having that same relationship with all of our state leaders and especially with Gov. Kemp,” Bottom said.

Following the inauguration ceremony, the new governor inspected and reviewed Georgia's troops – a long-held tradition for Georgia’s governors.

Kemp was honored with a 19-gun salute as part of the ceremony just outside the State Capitol in Liberty Plaza.

Channel 2's Matt Johnson watched on as Kemp walked down the State Capitol steps with his wife before shaking hands and greeting some of the state's servicemen and women.

The Georgia Air National Guard, Army National Guard, State Patrol and State Defense Force were all represented during the Review of the Troops.

Colonel Chris Dunlap with the Georgia Air National Guard was one of the airmen who participated in the events and told Johnson it is something he'll never forget.

“It was excellent to see the governor come down the steps and walk down the Capitol building and then to see him and participate in the formation and have the helicopters fly over afterward. It means a lot to us,” Dunlap said.

A 19-gun salute wrapped up the ceremony before a helicopter flyover by the Georgia State Patrol.

Deal and former first lady Sandra Deal met with Kemp and his wife Marty afterward at the Capitol.

They shook hands before Deal and his wife walked down the Capitol steps together, now as private citizens.

As former Gov. Deal and his wife left the Capitol, it was time for the new governor to get to work.

Kemp’s administration will hit the ground running. He submits his budget later this week and holds the State of the State on Thursday.