Born in Athens, Georgia, Kemp is a graduate of the University of Georgia. Prior to entering politics, Kemp owned several agribusiness, financial services and real estate companies. In 2002 he was elected to the Georgia State Senate. In 2010, Kemp was appointed Secretary of State of Georgia by Governor Sonny Perdue following the resignation of Karen Handel to run for the governorship. Kemp was subsequently elected to a full term as Georgia Secretary of State in 2010; he was reelected in 2014.