Kemp defeats Abrams to clinch second term as Georgia governor

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday is projected to clinch a second term in the governor’s mansion, defeating for a second time in four years his longtime Democratic foe Stacey Abrams. 

NBC News and ABC News both called the race.

The race became one of the most closely watched contests for governor in the country when Abrams launched her campaign late last year, setting up a rematch with Kemp after her narrow loss in 2018. 

Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has won his reelection race, one of the most closely watched gubernatorial contests in the country. (Associated Press)

That year, she came within 55,000 votes of winning the governor’s mansion in a state that has become increasingly competitive for Democrats in recent election cycles. While she ultimately fell short, the outcome was touted by Democrats as a sign of the progress they had made in Georgia following years of organizing and voter registration efforts.

Her voter mobilization efforts have in part been credited with Democrats’ 2020 successes in Georgia. President Biden won the state and Democrats prevailed in both Senate runoffs.

But the 2022 governor’s race didn’t give Abrams the comeback she had hoped for.

Facing a much more difficult political environment than she did last time, Abrams struggled to replicate the momentum that powered her campaign four years ago. Kemp, meanwhile, headed into his reelection bid as a relatively popular Republican incumbent with the political winds at his back. 

Stacey Abrams’ voter mobilization push in 2020, which was widely credited as giving Democrats their successes in Georgia, did not give her the comeback she was hoping for against Kemp. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

At the same time, Kemp was able to claim some measure of independence from former President Trump, who endorsed Kemp’s primary opponent, former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) after a spat with Kemp over the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Abrams also found herself in a much different political position in 2022 than she did in 2018. She’s become a superstar among Democrats nationally in recent years, building up something of a celebrity status within the party. During the 2020 presidential race, she openly jockeyed to be Biden’s running mate, but was ultimately passed over for Vice President Harris.

For his part, Kemp campaigned on his record as governor. He touted tax cuts that he signed into law earlier this year and boasted about his efforts to ease public health restrictions and reopen businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He also courted conservatives and evangelicals by signing into law a measure banning abortions once a fetal “heartbeat” is detected, as well as a bill that implemented sweeping changes to the state’s election laws and voting procedures.

Tags 2022 Governors 2022 midterms Biden Brian Kemp Georgia Georgia governors race Georgia gubernatorial race midterms

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