Brian Kemp projected to win reelection for Georgia governor, defeating Stacey Abrams – The 19th*

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ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has won reelection, Decision Desk HQ projects, defeating Stacey Abrams in one of the most closely watched races in the country.

Kemp, the incumbent Republican, surpassed 50 percent of the votes in Tuesday’s election, avoiding a runoff. It was a repeat matchup from four years ago, when Kemp bested Abrams by 55, 000 votes, or just 1 . 4 percentage points.

Abrams had been on the cusp of history. Voters have never elected a Black woman governor in the country. Abrams has been one of the most prolific fundraisers , which allowed her to be competitive throughout the election cycle with television ads and campaign outreach. Political observers had pointed to her bid as the most likely to break through in a year where several Black women sought the office around the country.

But Abrams had new challenges compared with four years ago. She faced an incumbent instead of running for an open seat, in an election year where Democrats had been facing headwinds around the country — the president’s party historically performs poorly in midterm elections. President Joe Biden has been polling unfavorably amid record inflation.

Abrams, the longtime voting rights advocate, tried to persuade more voters to show up to the polls, outreach that is credited with helping Democrats in 2020 plus 2021. But while Georgians showed up in record numbers in early voting, turnout boosted by the organizing of Black women, it wasn’t enough.

Kemp leaned heavily on his record to persuade voters to give him another chance. That meant highlighting work to keep businesses and schools open during the early months of the pandemic, moves that at the time were heavily criticized because of the still-unfolding pandemic. He’s also highlighted a record low unemployment rate in the state.

“That’s what this race is about, ” he told a small restaurant crowd eating breakfast in Jefferson on Friday. “Is, ‘Who’s going to keep fighting for you in the future? ’”

Asked why he was convinced the economy would be a winning message, Kemp told The 19th: “Well that’s what people are talking to me about. People thank me for keeping our economic climate open and our condition, literally every single day. ”

That message resonated with Michelle Holmes, 52, who owns a nearby pet grooming service. She ordered an egg and cheese sandwich to go after the event.

Holmes said she worried about how to pay her handful of employees during the early weeks of the pandemic.

“For Kemp to turn around and reopen things, that will pretty much saved my business, ” she said.

Kemp also highlighted the legislature’s work to suspend the state’s gasoline tax among high rising prices. For JoAn Clyde, who saw Kemp speak at another stop in Madison, those efforts have been important with rising expenses on food.

“This economy is on everyone’s mind right now, ” she said.

Brian Kemp speaks at The Neighborhood Lot in McDonough, Georgia.
John Kemp speaks at The Neighborhood Lot in McDonough, Georgia in July 2022. (Megan Varner/AP)

Still, the result signifies a deeply divided state. The work ahead for Kemp includes addressing the concerns of people who did not vote for him. Abrams signs littered some of the most populous areas of the state, including metro Atlanta.

Lisa Dancy, 55, who voted early for Abrams and also voted for Abrams in 2018, said she is concerned about health care access. She mentioned the closing of rural hospitals in the condition, and the closing of a hospital in Georgia recently. The girl noted people have to travel a long distance to get care.

Dancy said she is also concerned about the high costs of goods and services right now. But when the girl heard Kemp’s supporters were pointing to that as their reason for supporting him, she stated it was up to the White House and Congress to address it.

“I’m not sure what a chief excutive can do about it, ” the lady said, adding: “It’s a way to distract voters. ”

Lisa Harper, who drove in from McDonough to see Abrams in Atlanta, said gun violence and the abortion access were top issues for her. The 42-year-old, who works in sales, voted early for Abrams. She mentioned if Kemp won the particular election, she would still want him to address these issues.

“You’re losing restrictions on one thing, almost to the point of it being chaotic and dangerous — and then tightening restrictions to the point that it becomes chaotic plus dangerous for another group of people, ” she said. “It’s the juxtaposition that I don’t understand. ”

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