Updated Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Abrams concedes to Kemp in Georgia governor's race

Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, center, speaks during an election night rally in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at an election night victory rally in Atlanta on Nov. 8. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrat Stacey Abrams has conceded the Georgia gubernatorial race to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after a closely watched rematch.

Driving the news: Kemp’s win comes as no surprise to pundits and pollsters after he maintained a lead in public polling averages for months. The Associated Press called the race at 12:45am ET.

What she's saying: "I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to ensure that the people of Georgia have a voice," Abrams told supporters at her campaign’s election night party at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta.

  • "We may not have made it to the finish line, but we ran that race," she added.
  • "We know that running is what matters. That standing is what matters. Defending is what matters," she said.
  • "While we might not write the story today, there is always another chapter."

The other side: “It looks like the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated," Kemp opened his victory speech to supporters.

Why it matters: In a state that elected President Biden and two Democratic senators in 2020, Democrats had high hopes for taking over the state’s top post. But Kemp’s victory throws into question their assertion that the state is indeed turning blue.

  • The race drew national attention, with former Vice President Mike Pence campaigning on Kemp’s behalf and former President Obama on Abrams'.

Catch up quick: While the two candidates were the same, this year’s election was far different from 2018. Since then, Kemp has led the state through COVID-19 and faced scrutiny for his decision to reopen Georgia’s economy earlier than most.

  • Kemp made that decision a centerpiece of his campaign, claiming on the trail that while others were listening to national politicians, he was listening to small businesses around the state.

The other side: Abrams became a national political figure during the 2018 race and that attention helped accelerate her powerhouse fundraising capabilities. The experienced state official unveiled many thorough policy plans with a vision for the state budget vastly different from Kemp’s, but it wasn’t enough to take her over the finish line.

The intrigue: Kemp’s victory also comes despite the fact that he became one of former President Trump’s top targets in the wake of 2020.

  • Trump campaigned for Kemp’s primary opponent and by the general election, the former president’s name was hardly mentioned on the campaign trail.

Between the lines: Abrams’ campaign warned in the weeks leading up to the election of voter suppression in the state thanks to Republican voting policies — a claim she also made in 2018. But given the record turnout for the election, Republicans scoffed at the argument.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that former President Trump campaigned for Gov. Brian Kemp's primary opponent, not against, and that the AP has called the race.

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