Menu Close

Brian Kemp, Stacy Abrams clash again in Georgia governor's election as Trump influence fades

Four years later, Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams have gone from local celebrities to national political figures.

Kemp, the Republican conservative champion and Donald Trump antagonist. Abrams, the Democrat disruptor and suspected future presidential candidate.

Kemp, Abrams vie for centrist vote: Gubernatorial candidates speak at Savannah conference

Opinion: Stacey Abrams needs to turn out Democrat voters to win governor. Trump is her best hope

The rivals have each grown their public profiles since their 2018 race for governor captured national attention. The result was close, with Kemp winning by 55,000 votes and narrowly avoiding a runoff.

Abrams refused to concede the loss, although she did acknowledge that Kemp would be governor. In the wake of the narrow defeat, she became a Democratic darling, giving the party’s rebuttal to the 2019 State of the Union address. She was among those considered to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate in the 2020 election.

Candidates for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp

Likewise, Kemp has seen his own star rise since the 2018 election. He received the most votes for governor in history in that race and during her term has secured several major economic wins for the state. He also signed into law several conservative priorities, from abortion restrictions to gun rights expansions to voting reform.

From a national standpoint, Kemp is now a known commodity due to his pushback against former President Trump’s election fraud claims.

Two other candidates will be on the Nov. 8 ballot: Libertarian Shane Hazel and Independent Elbert Bartell. Hazel ran for U.S. Senate in 2020, securing enough votes in the general election to force a runoff between Perdue, the Republican incumbent, and Jon Ossoff. Ossoff won the runoff after finishing second in the general election.

Voting Rights Guide: For nearly 60 years, Georgia’s voting rights laws have shifted with the political winds

What is the governor’s role?

The governor is the state government’s chief executive with far-reaching powers in terms of the economic and budgetary policy and public safety and health. The governor works with floor leaders in the Georgia General Assembly to introduce and advance legislation, including the state’s annual budget. However, bills must be approved by both the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate before the governor can sign them into law.

The governor has the power to veto measures passed by the General Assembly, although the legislature can override the governor’s veto with a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber.

What happened in the primaries?

Kemp’s primary challenge from a Trump-endorsed candidate, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, captured much of the attention in the May 24 elections. Kemp won easily, capturing 74% of the vote in the five-way GOP race.

Kemp wins all 159 Georgia counties: He’ll need the Trump vote in rematch vs. Abrams

Abrams ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

What do you need to know about Brian Kemp?

Kemp’s background is in land development and construction. He started his own homebuilding business in his 20s and went on to invest in several other small business ventures involving banking, farming and manufacturing.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp waves to supporters during an election night watch party Tuesday. Kemp easily turned back a GOP primary challenge Tuesday from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who was backed by former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

He entered politics in 2002, winning a seat in the Georgia Senate. He served two terms before running for Agriculture commissioner, a statewide office, in 2006. He lost that bid in the GOP primary only to be appointed to another statewide office, secretary of state, in 2010 by then governor Nathan Deal. He won election as an incumbent in that post in 2014 and ran for governor four years later.

Kemp’s re-election campaign focuses on the state’s economic success during his first term as governor and on his legislative victories. While many of the laws he has championed do appeal to conservative ideologues, he’s also supported less-partisan measures, such as easing the bureaucracy around adopting children, enacting hate crimes legislation and repealing citizen’s arrest powers, investing in mental health services and providing tax relief.

What do you need to know about Stacey Abrams?

Abrams’ professional background is as a tax attorney and author. She’s penned 14 books, including nine novels. She co-founded a beverage company in 2010 which has since pivoted to become a financial technology firm.

Stacey Abrams speaks during a campaign stop at the Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The stop was Abrams’ first to Athens of the election year.

Abrams launched her political career in 2006, winning a Georgia House seat. Her influence grew over the following two terms and she became House minority leader in 2010. She held her seat and her leadership position until she resigned in 2017 to launch her bid for governor. Also during her time in the House, Abrams started the New Georgia Project, aimed at registering new voters. She later co-founded Fair Fight, a voting rights advocacy organization.

Abrams’ campaign platform is broad, with a focus on economic policy, voting rights, abortion rights, Medicaid expansion, gun safety, public safety and criminal justice reform, housing affordability, education and protecting the environment.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: GA governor race: Candidates Brian Kemp, Stacey Abrams meet in rematch