Brian Kemp wins rematch against Stacey Abrams

This time, she dialed Kemp around 11 p.m. Tuesday to congratulate him on his win — a call that came before the networks projected his win.

Beyond their personal history, the two candidates had radically different visions on virtually every policy, with starkly contrasting agendas for economic, public safety, health care and education issues dominating the race.

Kemp’s win seals a remarkable turnaround for a governor who wasn’t even the heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination — let alone the defeat of Abrams, a former Georgia House minority leader and rights advocate. poll who has been steadily preparing for another race after losing in 2018.

Over a six-month span, Kemp thwarted Donald Trump’s quest for revenge by routing his hand-picked challenger, former U.S. Senator David Perdue, in the GOP primary and then defeating a Democratic star considered by many in his party as a potential White House. candidate.

“Well, it seems the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated,” Kemp said in a fiery victory speech to cheering supporters.

The midterm ended Abrams’ historic quest to become the nation’s first black woman elected governor – and leaves her at an uncertain crossroads as she considers her future in politics.

After his loss in 2018, his national profile soared; senior democratic leaders begged her to run for the U.S. Senate and many have seen it as a strong contender for Joe Biden’s race comrade. She has repeatedly said that she dreams of running for president herself.

His next step after two straight statewide losses to Kemp in his home state is unclear.

“While I may not have crossed the finish line, we will never stop running for a better Georgia,” she told Democrats in downtown Atlanta.

Although Kemp’s allies are brimming with confidence in the final weeks of the race, his re-election bid has never been better. inevitable as recent polls suggest.

A year ago, Kemp was regularly booed at GOP rallies by upset activists, he refused Trump’s request to cancel the 2020 presidential election. The former president called Kemp a “total failure” and even thought he preferred Abrams win the highest state office.

Trump persuaded Perdue to run against Kemp shortly after his loss to Democrat Jon Ossoff, part of a tandem of GOP losses in the January 2021 runoff that upended Senate control. Perdue centered his offer on loyalty to Trump — and his lies about widespread voter fraud.

But lost Done helping Kemp more than he hurt her. Leveraging his office’s broad powers, Kemp has worked with GOP lawmakers to cut income taxes, ease gun restrictions and pass other measures to bolster his support among conservatives and independent voters. .

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Perdue’s far-right stances made Kemp appear more moderate in contrast, giving the governor an opening to woo swing voters who applauded him for standing up to Trump. He also tried not to alienate the ‘Make America Great Again’ base by insisting he wouldn’t.”say a bad wordabout the ex-president.

Kemp’s Victory in 52 points on Perdue — and the failures of many other Trump-backed challengers in the Republican primary — quiet criticism of the former president. With polls showing overwhelming GOP support for the governor, Kemp was free to try to broaden his base of support.

Thanks in part to new fundraising rules, Kemp raised around $70 million to promote his record and beat Abrams. Although the Democrat still exceeded ithe invested resources in a basic infrastructure to compete with Abrams’ valuable voting device.

While Democrats hoped the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would upset the race, Kemp barely spoke about anti-abortion limits than the polls shown were widely unpopular among Georgia’s likely voters.

In their second debate last week, however, Kemp wouldn’t say if he would sign more abortion restrictions into law in a second term. That fueled fresh warnings from Democrats that he intended to go beyond state law that barred the procedure as early as six weeks.

The governor preferred to keep his focus on the state’s economy, blaming Biden and Abrams — an architect of his 2020 victory in Georgia — for decades-high inflation and an uncertain financial climate.

He reminded voters of his decision to lift economic restrictions during the first weeks of confinement linked to the coronavirus pandemic, suspended the state gasoline tax to drive down energy prices and make deals for the huge hyundai and Rivian automobile factories.

It was his policies, Kemp told the crowds, that protected Georgians from more economic suffering. And while he didn’t make many campaign promises, he promised to dip into the state’s bloated surplus to fund a $2 billion tax refund in a second term.

“There’s a catastrophe going on in Washington right now that’s hitting Central America in the pocket right now and hurting hard-working Georgians,” he told supporters in a rural town, “and it’s That’s what I’m going to focus on.”

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

As Kemp focused his campaign energy largely on his first-term recordAbrams unfurled a blizzard of proposals to bring what she called “generational” change to Georgia.

She has vowed to roll back anti-abortion boundaries and overturn pro-gun laws. She pledged to embrace many of the initiatives that her 2018 campaign was based on, including the expansion of Medicaid and an overhaul of criminal justice policies.

And she outlined plans to tap into the state’s more than $6.6 billion surplus and legalize casino gambling to boost teachers’ salaries, fund new graduate scholarships and promote greater great economic equality.

Kemp long urged to be more careful with the extra money, claiming that Abrams’ program would lead to higher taxes. He will now have four more years to implement his plan in a politically divided state that is sure to remain a serious battleground.

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