UGA Journalism Professor Apologizes for Calling GOP Candidate Brian Kemp a 'Nice Guy' in Tweet

Brian Kemp / YouTube
July 30, 2018

A University of Georgia journalism professor offered an apology last week for tweeting Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp was a "nice guy," saying it was "ill-timed" and seemed like a political endorsement.

Kemp easily defeated Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in their runoff on Tuesday to win the GOP nomination for governor, buoyed by a late endorsement from President Donald Trump.

Professor Charles Davis, who is the Dean of UGA's prestigious Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, tweeted shortly after the race was called for Kemp on Tuesday, "I went to high school with GOP guv candidate @BrianKempGA. We played YMCA ball from childhood. Politics be damned. He is a nice guy, always was. Kind to a fault. He's a friend, always has been, and will be when we're old(er) and grey(er). That's how all this should work, people."

Campus Reform highlighted some of the intense criticism Davis took for offering warm words about Kemp, with some followers calling him a "racist" who "spews bigoted and dangerous rhetoric." In one Kemp ad during the primary, he talked about rounding up "criminal illegals" in his pick-up truck.

Davis eventually deleted the tweet and explained to one critic last week that it was "simply an acknowledgement of a long friendship," not a political statement.

On Friday, he offered an apology to "anyone offended by my tweet shout out to Brian Kemp," adding, "It was ill-timed and poorly written. I've read and learned so much from you all and will endeavor to be more thoughtful."

On Monday, he added, "To clarify, neither UGA nor its administration had any role in the retraction of my earlier message. I should not have used a social media account associated with UGA to post a message that some construed as political."

Kemp now faces Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in one of the nation's most closely watched races; Georgia hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1998, but progressives have long had their eye on flipping the state house.