In one of the most-watched races in the U.S. this election season, Republican Brian Kemp crowned himself victor of the governor’s office against Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams in the early hours of Wednesday, Nov. 7.
As the election creeped further into Tuesday night with no clear victor, many onlookers — most notably, Abrams herself — believed a runoff to be likely.
“To the voters tonight, I say — if I wasn’t your first choice as governor… or you made no choice at all… know that it is my mission to serve you,” Abrams said, apparently addressing third-party voters and non-voters.
However, Kemp alongside other high-profile Republicans frankly disagreed. In a late afternoon press call on Wednesday, Kemp’s campaign strategist Austin Chambers issued a statement on their campaign’s stance.
“This election is over. The votes have been counted. And the results are clear: Brian Kemp is the governor-elect,” Chambers said. “What they [Abrams’ campaign] do moving forward doesn’t matter. Because Brian Kemp has secured this victory.”
Current Governor Nathan Deal wrote on Twitter, “My congratulations to Gov.-elect @BrianKempGA … In the coming days, my office will work diligently with the incoming administration to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.”
My congratulations to Gov.-elect @BrianKempGA. He and his opponent both ran passionate campaigns with very different visions about how to keep Georgia on this path of prosperity, and I believe the voters of Georgia made the correct decision in electing Brian.
— Governor Nathan Deal (@GovernorDeal) November 7, 2018
As of publication, Kemp leads Abrams in the race by 1.61 percent, or just 62,881 votes.
A secretary of state-affiliated website states that 100 percent of precincts have reported their votes, yet Abrams warns there are a minimum of 77,000 ballots waiting to be counted from seven counties: DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Chatham, Henry, Douglas and Clarke.
Abrams would need to net only 25,622 votes from those remaining ballots to trigger a runoff, which would then be held Tuesday, Dec. 4. If Abrams’ claims are true, that could be a real possibility, considering all seven counties lean Democrat.
At 7 p.m. tonight, Abrams’ campaign hosted a press call, introducing their plans moving forward. Sparing no time, campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo announced a response to Kemp’s claim to victory.
“We know our opponent Brian Kemp has declared himself the victor, and we do not accept that,” Groh-Wargo said.
She demanded Kemp release all voting data, both to their campaign and the public. Groh-Wargo said there is no reason for their campaign to take Kemp at his word without proof and that it’s long past time for Kemp to resign from his position as secretary of state.
“We don’t accept or reject what he says, we just want to see proof because this is public data,” she said.
Campaign chair and lawyer Allegra Hardy also announced the formation of a litigation team in defense of the campaign’s motives.
“[The team will] ensure all votes are counted and constitutional rights upheld,” Hardy said.
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