Kemp and Abrams in final days of Georgia gubernatorial race: NPR


Republican Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to campaign supporters in Marietta, Georgia, on Nov. 3. Kemp emphasized how he has kept businesses open during the pandemic despite criticism from Democrats and health experts. “Who fought for you when the political winds were blowing the other way?” he said.

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Republican Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to campaign supporters in Marietta, Georgia, on Nov. 3. Kemp emphasized how he has kept businesses open during the pandemic despite criticism from Democrats and health experts. “Who fought for you when the political winds were blowing the other way?” he said.

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ATLANTA – When Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, took office after a landslide victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018, he promised to invest in infrastructure, curb crime and improve schools.

“When I gave my inaugural speech, I said, ‘I will work hard for every Georgian, whether you voted for me or not,'” he recently reminded a crowd of supporters as he runs for a second term this year. “And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.”

Kemp signs a flyer in Marietta, Georgia on November 3. He urged supporters to ignore polls showing him ahead of Democrat Stacey Abrams. “I don’t want you to believe any polls,” he said. “Look, the national media is already writing stories about this and that. Let me tell you what they are doing: they are trying to put us to sleep. Don’t believe it. Keep working like we’re five points down.”

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A crowd of more than a hundred supporters cheered as Kemp stepped off his campaign bus in Cumming, Georgia, on Nov. 1 just before a rally featuring former Vice President Mike Pence.

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But beyond such perennial topics as public safety and education, the nation’s governors have also been tested by events that would have been difficult to predict just a few years ago, such as the death of Roe v. Wadeglobal pandemic and tumultuous 2020 election

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For many Americans, the upheaval has brought more relief to the power of their governors, as decisions on abortion, the pandemic and voting fall to the states, more than Washington.

Kemp smiles as Pence touts the governor’s leadership during a rally in Cumming, Ga., on Nov. 1. “I’m here because Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in the United States of America,” Pence told the crowd. “I’m here because Stacey Abrams can never be governor of the great state of Georgia.

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On the campaign trail, Kemp hasn’t talked much about the implications of the 2020 election, nor about last year’s change to Georgia’s voting laws, which Democrats have sharply criticized.

But he has referenced 2020 in other ways, often opening his silly speech by recounting his decision to reopen schools and businesses at the start of the pandemic, when most governors did not.

Camp supporters take selfies as the governor joins Pence on stage at a campaign rally in Cumming, Georgia, on November 1.

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Pence joins Kemp for second rally this campaign cycle. The Republican president successfully avoided any interference from former President Donald Trump on the campaign trail while wooing conservative voters.

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“We are the incubators of democracy,” Kemp said in an interview. “A lot of the things that you’ve seen that are good for our states are ultimately maybe good national policy or are better done at the state level than at the national level. And I think covid has only made that worse.”

Like other Democrats running for governor across the country, Abrams has made abortion rights a centerpiece of the campaign. As governor, Kemp signed a law banning most abortions after about six weeks.

“Governors have the greatest amount of power that people rarely understand,” Abrams said in an interview. “But as the U.S. Supreme Court disenfranchises women, because of the weakening of the Voting Rights Act, more and more of the decision-making power has shifted to the states.”

Yet an issue that could help decide tight races in Georgia and other states is mostly out of governors’ hands: inflation. Kemp and other Republicans have linked the rising cost of everyday expenses like groceries and gas to Democratic control of Washington.

Abrams stands with protesters outside the shuttered Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center on November 1. As of 2018, Abrams has been advocating for full Medicaid expansion and has argued that it would save many of Georgia’s closing hospitals. “We are steps away from MLK’s home and yet we are watching this community lose health care in real time,” she said.

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In front of a crowd of supporters in Marietta, Georgia, and flanked by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, Abrams emphasized his opponent’s abortion restrictions. After the Supreme Court decided to overrule Roe v. Wade, Georgia’s strict abortion ban passed in 2019 went into effect. “When Brian Kemp tells you who he is, believe him,” she said on Nov. 1.

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While governors can’t reverse inflation on their own, both candidates outlined ways the state can help ease voters’ economic pain. For example, Kemp has suspended the state gas tax for months. Abrams doubled down on his promise to expand Medicaid.

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In recent months, Kemp has led Abrams in most polls by several points.

But as the two candidates head into Georgia’s midterm elections for the second time, they have laid out very different visions for the state — on everything from economic development and the state budget to health care, voting and public safety — at a time when Georgia’s demographics and politics are in flux .

So the outcome of Georgia’s gubernatorial race will likely shape voters’ daily lives — and the trajectory of their state.

Abrams and Warnock supporters dance in the stands at The Gateway Center in College Park, Ga., before Obama’s Oct. 28 speech.

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Abrams and Warnock greet supporters during a rally in College Park, Georgia on October 28. During this campaign, I have had the honor of reaching out to voters across Georgia – listening to their voices and their dreams,” said Abrams. “Because regardless of where we live, we share a common conviction: that Georgia can do more, can do more, for all of us.”

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