The holidays are going to be tense for one Georgia political family as Brian Kemp’s niece is speaking out about her support for Stacey Abrams and saying her uncle is “essentially running as Trump.”
Caty Cowsert, 25, is a queer Atlanta restaurant server who is also the daughter of Bill Cowsert, the Georgia Senate Majority Leader. She spoke to Vice at length about her family and why she’s supporting Abrams, who faces Kemp in the Nov. 6 gubernatorial election.
“[Kemp] has never voted for LGBT rights or any sort of equality matters that would make me want to vote for him, whereas Stacey has voted for those policies for more than a decade, and she knows minorities, and she knows equality and has a different standpoint that I can back,” Cowsert told Vice. “And I can understand that, as a representative who understands being a minority or being discriminated against, she’s going to vote in my favor.”
Cowsert said she felt liberated after coming out to her parents in college and was determined to “never be that token queer kid in campaign photos.”
She said she was surprised about Kemp's behavior in ads during the Republican primary election showing him pointing a gun at a young man and promising to “round up criminal illegals and bring them home myself.”
“He’s soft-spoken and reserved,” Cowsert told me. When she saw his ads, she told me, she thought, “‘This is not Uncle Brian… I really thought it was a joke, like someone had dubbed his voice over things.” She chalks his behavior up as an appeal to Trump’s voter base — a large, powerful body in ultra-red Georgia.
Once the absurd Kemp ads began airing, Cowsert took a closer look at her uncle’s platform. “The fact that he’s essentially running as Trump,” she said, was what got her interested in his politics. “I don’t want to live in state where Trump is governor, too.”
Cowsert went public with her support for Abrams in July. “I can’t wait until she’s our next governor” and “Georgia needs more compassionate and intelligent politicians,” she said in a Facebook post.
She told Vice that led to tension between her and her Aunt Marty, Kemp’s wife. Marty Kemp has appeared in campaign ads since Kemp won the Republican nomination.
Marty Kemp, after learning of the posts, sent a text to Cowsert to say that she and the family have always supported “whatever path you’ve chosen in life” – Cowsert feels this is a reference to her sexuality and political leanings – and request they “respect each other during this political journey,” rather than incite discourse about the gubernatorial race.
Brian Kemp issued a statement to Vice and said he loves and respects Cowsert and that her support of Abrams “does not change how we feel about her.”
“There’s family behind politics, but politics is not always about supporting your family,” Cowsert said. “And sometimes, your family doesn’t support you, but you know they love you. You just have to find the politician that supports you.”
Sen. Cowsert voted in favor of an anti-LGBTQ adoption bill in 2017 that ultimately failed to pass. Cowsert also voted in favor of HB 757, a controversial anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bill that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed in 2016.
On Sunday, the gay Georgia Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Kemp and several other GOP candidates with anti-LGBTQ records.
Photo via Brian Kemp campaign