Kemp Leads Georgia Gubernatorial Race but Abrams Refuses to Concede

Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp greets volunteers and staff at his campaign office in Atlanta, Ga., November 5, 2018. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Republican Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State, is poised to beat Democrat Stacey Abrams by a slim margin in Georgia’s hotly contested gubernatorial race but Abrams has refused to concede, vowing to instead wait until every vote has been counted.

Speaking to supporters shortly after 1a.m., Abrams seemed to suggest a recount would occur.

“I want to say this: if I wasn’t your first choice or if you made no choice at all, you’re gonna have a chance to do a do-over,” Abrams said.

“When you chose me as your Democratic nominee, I made you a vow,” she continued to applause. “In our Georgia, no one would be unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired.”

“Tonight, we have closed the gap between yesterday and tomorrow,” she concluded. “But we still have a few more miles to go.”

Kemp lead Abrams by just over two percent with 99 percent of districts reporting at just after 2a.m., according to the Associated Press.

Abrams, the former minority leader of the state’s house of representatives ran on a deeply progressive platform, vowing to expand Medicaid, support more stringent gun control legislation, and back public sector unions. The former House member has attracted endorsements and speaking appearances from prominent liberal figures, including president Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

Kemp, who was charged with overseeing the state’s elections, was maligned in the closing weeks of the race by high-profile Democratic lawmakers and activists for carrying out a campaign of “voter suppression.” The allegations were primarily based on Kemp’s decision to delay the registration of more than 50,000 voters due to concerns that the information provided on their registration forms did not match the existing information listed in the state’s databases.

Critics also pointed to Kemp’s attempt to purge from the rolls some 3,000 voters flagged as “non-citizens” in the state’s database. District-court judge Eleanor Ross ruled Friday that those individuals must be allowed to vote so long as they provide proof of citizenship at the polls.

Kemp also came under fire in the final days ahead of the election for skipping a debate with Abrams on Sunday to hold a rally for his supporters with President Trump, who used the opportunity to blast Abrams as an “extreme far-left” candidate.

Days before the election, Kemp launched an investigation into allegations of “potential cyber crimes” perpetrated by Georgia Democrats, who, according to Kemp’s office, orchestrated “a failed attempt to hack the state’s voter registration system.” Democrats denied the allegations, casting them as a last-minute distraction and Kemp’s office was unable to provide corroborating evidence ahead of the election.

Georgia has had a Republican governor since 2003 and has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1992 but shifting demographics, especially in urban areas such as Atlanta, likely contributed to the Democrats’ relative success this year.

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