But Republican support for the bill also reflects some of the more subtle political forces at work in a hotly contested Southern state where Black voters tend to cast ballots for Democrats and white voters tend to support Republican candidates.
Brian Robinson, a political strategist based in Georgia, recalls his Twitter feed filling up with outraged comments from fellow Republicans after the video of the shooting went viral. What people saw in the video, he said, was not like cases of high-profile police shootings “where some people see a murder and some people see a police officer acting appropriately in a charged situation, or acting within reason.”
“I think all of us could imagine the terror of running down the street and seeing some guy jump out at you with a gun,” he added. “I think it hit on a human level, not just Black people or white people, necessarily.”
Mr. Kemp was among the Republicans to denounce the killing, a notable position from an elected leader who in one 2018 campaign ad pointed a shotgun at a teenager hoping to date his daughter, and in another ad suggested that he might take vigilante action by using his pickup truck to “round up criminal illegals.”
After pushing hard for the hate crimes law, Mr. Kemp followed up by spearheading the effort to pass the citizen’s arrest reform. Mr. Arbery, he has said, “was the victim of a vigilante style of violence that has no place in our state, and some tried to justify the actions of his killers by claiming they had the protection of an antiquated law that is ripe for abuse.”
Mr. Kemp is facing a monumentally complex task as he looks toward re-election next year. Former President Donald J. Trump, who gave Mr. Kemp a big boost with an endorsement in a primary runoff in 2018, later soured on the governor, saying he was “ashamed” of the endorsement after Mr. Kemp refused Mr. Trump’s entreaties that he overturn the results of November’s presidential election in Georgia.
Mr. Trump, who lost the state by about 12,000 votes, has encouraged a primary challenge against Mr. Kemp.