- Republican Brian Kemp will become the next governor of Georgia after his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, ended her bid on Friday evening after a tight and contentious battle.
- Kemp claimed victory with 50.22 percent of the vote – just barely over the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff.
- Abrams accused Kemp of “deliberate and intentional” voter-suppression tactics and said she would file suit against the state for “gross mismanagement” of the election.
Republican Brian Kemp will become the next governor of Georgia after his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, ended her bid on Friday evening after a tight and contentious battle.
Kemp claimed victory with 50.22 percent of the vote – just barely over the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff and, as of Thursday night, earned 54,801 more votes than his opponent did, out of a total 3.9 million ballots cast.
Abrams, who has for months accused Kemp of disenfranchising voters as Georgia’s secretary of state, refused to give a traditional concession speech, accusing Kemp of undermining the state’s democracy in order to improve his electoral chances.
“I acknowledge that Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said during her Friday speech. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. So let’s be clear, this is not a speech of concession.”
Abrams blamed the state’s voter roll purges – which, under Kemp’s direction, removed 1.5 million voters from the rolls, the classification of about 50,000 voters as “pending” because their information didn’t exactly match that in government files, long lines, faulty equipment, and closed polling places for disenfranchising an untold number of Georgians, a group that disproportionately comprises people of color.
“I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right,” said Abrams, who would have become the country’s first African American female governor. “But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”
The Georgia race was one of the most contentious and closely-watched in the country, as Abrams, who received a last-minute boost from Oprah, battled it out with Kemp, a strong Trump supporter who benefited from the president’s endorsement. Abrams, the former state House minority leader, came closer to winning a statewide race in Georgia than any Democrat has in decades.
Over the last two weeks, thousands of provisional ballots were counted – including at polling sites that initially said they had completed their counts.
“Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions,” she said. “I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment, and incompetence had its desired effect on the electoral process in Georgia.”
Abrams also said her team would be filing a “major lawsuit” against the state of Georgia for “gross mismanagement” of the election.
“Voting is not a right for some, it is a right for all, and it is not a privilege,” Abrams said.
But Abrams also said she would “pray for the success of Brian Kemp that he will indeed be a leader of all Georgians.”
Trump offered some praise for Abrams on Friday evening: “Stacey Abrams fought brilliantly and hard – she will have a terrific political future!”
In a statement on Friday evening, Kemp, who previously called Abrams’ refusal to concede “a disgrace to democracy” and a “temper tantrum,” said he looked forward to moving past the divisive race.
“I appreciate her passion, hard work, and commitment to public service,” Kemp said of his opponent. “The election is over and hardworking Georgians are ready to move forward. We can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past but must focus on Georgia’s bright and promising future.”