Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has clinched another term outright and defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in a nationally watched – and long-anticipated – rematch between the two rivals.
Kemp went into Tuesday the favorite to win after consistently leading in the polls. Abrams called Kemp late Tuesday night to concede, according to a Kemp campaign spokesman. Both candidates are expected to speak Tuesday night.
Kemp’s comfortable finish in the end is a world away from the position he was in nearly a year ago when former U.S. Sen. David Perdue announced he would launch a primary challenge with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Trump vowed to defeat the governor when he did not help overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
But Kemp walloped Perdue by 52 percentage points in May. Some voters have said they split their ticket – voting for both Kemp and Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock – as a nod to Kemp’s handling of the 2020 election.
Kemp has never criticized Trump publicly but he has embraced the support of national Republican figures, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, who have fallen out of Trump’s favor.
The governor put the national economy at the center of his reelection bid and touted the strength of the state’s economy coming out of the pandemic at every opportunity. He also pledged to support another round of tax refunds and a one-time property tax grant to provide temporary relief from rising housing costs.
Abrams had tried to recapture the energy of her 2018 run, when there was a race for an open seat after former Gov. Nathan Deal was term limited. Four years ago, she came up just 55,000 votes short of Kemp, who won outright with just 50.2% of the vote.
But her campaign faced headwinds brought on by an unfavorable national climate for Democrats, with inflation driving up costs for Americans and President Joe Biden’s popularity under water.
Abrams also returned to the campaign trail in Georgia as a national superstar whose candor about her own future political ambitions – and her cameo appearance as president of United Earth on Star Trek – became frequent fodder for Kemp and other Republicans.
Abrams crafted a nuanced economic message that incorporated the cost of health care, and she pushed reproductive rights to the center of her message after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the federal constitutional right to abortion access.
She pitched her candidacy as a chance to elevate Georgians who she argued are missing out on the state’s growing economy.
A poll released in early October revealed some of Abrams’ positions – like her opposition to the state’s six-week abortion ban – were popular with the majority of Georgia voters even as most of the respondents said they preferred Kemp.
Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.