Georgia's Brian Kemp Risks Inflaming GOP 'Civil War' As State Meets Safe Harbor Day Deadline

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp could further inflame tensions within the Republican Party on Tuesday as his state officially passes the safe harbor day deadline for certifying its election results.

Safe harbor day is a deadline for states to settle outstanding election disputes so that the results cannot be undermined when they're communicated to Congress. The deadline is set six days before the Electoral College meets. It falls this year on December 8.

The deadline is laid out in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 but it is not mandatory. Georgia certified its results on Monday following a third count of votes in the state and despite some Republicans calling for further investigations into the process. The Trump campaign can continue its lawsuits after safe harbor day but judges may decide it's too late to successfully challenge results.

Kemp has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump but he's rejected attempts to overturn the election results in his state, which President-elect Joe Biden won.

Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican, have followed precedent by certifying Biden's win, but the law does not require them to certify it by December 8.

Both have come under fire from members of their own party for refusing to delay certification and investigate unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Monday that Kemp's failure to act was exacerbating a "civil war" in the Republican Party.

"If you're not fighting for Trump now when he needs you the most as a Republican leader in Georgia, people are not going to fight for you when you ask them to get reelected," Graham said.

"There's a civil war brewing in Georgia for no good reason. It's not unreasonable to ask the legislature to come back in and order an audit of the signatures in the presidential race to see if the system worked. What is unreasonable is to sit on your ass and do nothing when you've got a chance to save the country," he said.

Graham called on Kemp to hold a special session of the state legislature that could overturn the results. Kemp, Raffensperger and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan have all rejected the idea.

"Georgia Lt. Governor @GeoffDuncanGA is a RINO Never Trumper who got himself elected as LG by falsely claiming to be 'pro-Trump,'" Trump tweeted on Monday. "Too dumb or corrupt to recognize massive evidence of fraud in GA & should be replaced! We need every great Georgian to call him out! #SpecialSession!"

Duncan retweeted the president's criticism of him on Tuesday, offering praise for Trump. Trump had earlier said potential Republican defeats in Georgia's Senate runoff elections would be the fault of local GOP leaders. The elections on January 5 will decide control of the chamber.

"Thank you for 4 years of conservative leadership @realdonaldtrump," Duncan wrote. "You've proven that a business minded outsider can be effective in DC and your legacy will last a generation in our Supreme Ct. Let's agree that re-electing @kloeffler & @sendavidperdue should be your top priority."

Forty-seven states have already certified their election results and the remaining three are expected to certify before the Electoral College meets on December 13, according to Reuters. Those three states are Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey.

Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp in Atlanta
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks during a press conference announcing statewide expanded COVID testing on August 10, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia has certified its 2020 presidential election results ahead of safe harbor day. Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images