Kemp defeats Abrams, wins reelection


Abby Hyken

Kemp voters show their support for the governor. On Nov. 8, Kemp won reelection, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of the 2022 contest.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams, winning reelection. Although all votes are not counted, Abrams conceded to Kemp on Election Night. 

“It looks that reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated,” Kemp said with a smile as he took the microphone at his victory press conference just before 11:40 p.m.

Kemp, who had 54 percent of the vote at the time Abrams conceded, said voters sent a clear message.

“Looking at the results tonight, we made sure Stacey Abrams is not going to be our governor or your next president,” Kemp said.

Hallie Meier, a college student and intern for the Kemp campaign, said she supported Kemp because of his values.

“I’ve always admired Kemp,” Meier said. “I always thought he was a good leader. I think he embodied family values, and he always strikes me as the kind of leader I want at the helm of my home state.”

Kemp supporter Bill Hines said he voted for Kemp for multiple reasons. 

“Because of [my grandson] and his education,” Hines said. “I’ll also say I’m concerned about him regarding crime. I’m also concerned as an end run, not specifically to Gov. Kemp, but we’ve gotta do something with our border. We’ve gotta do something with the border. We just can’t have drugs and illegals coming into our country.”

Lisa Brison, a friend of the governor’s family at his headquarters on election night, said Kemp is one of the best governors she has seen.

“They really care,” Brison said. “He’s just a guy like me and you that wants to do what’s right, you know. He works really hard … My husband and I have been around a lot of governors, and we’ve had a lot of great governors, and he’s a great governor. He’s the hardest-working governor that I’ve ever seen.”

Midtown senior Spencer Lieberman voted for Abrams. 

“I have heard a lot of good things about [Abrams],” Lieberman said. “My parents have also helped me do research and figure out who I want to vote for. I only really talk politics with them. I share most of the same views with them, so they have helped me throughout this entire process. I like what Stacey stands for more than what Kemp does. Voting in my family is very important, incredibly important.”

Although younger voters usually vote for Democratic candidates at a higher percentage than the national average, many young people in Georgia voted for Kemp.

Deanna Harris, the chair of the Cobb County Young Republicans, said she supported Kemp because of his pandemic policies. During his term, Kemp reopened Georgia and opposed mask mandates and restrictive lockdowns.

“He went through a pandemic that none of us have ever seen in our lifetime, no one living has seen, and I think that he made a lot of the right choices for us to be able to move forward as a state,” Harris said.

In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Kemp defeated Abrams by 54,732 votes, just 1.4% of the popular vote. Prior to the election, Kemp served as the Georgia Secretary of State while Abrams was the minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives. 

After the election, Abrams refused to concede, alleging that Kemp won due to voter suppression he had conducted as Secretary of State. Despite losing the election, Abrams remained in the spotlight nationally. During the 2020 presidential election, Abrams fundraised for Democrats nationally and worked to expand voter protections. Voter suppression has been a concern in this election as well.

“Voter suppression in Georgia is very, very, very heavily grounded,” Francesca Ruhe, 2022 Midtown graduate, said. “That was part of the issues that Stacey was called to conquer when she launched Fair Fight.”

In her concession speech, Abrams, who founded Fair Fight Action, the voter advocacy organization after her 2018 loss to Kemp, addressed concerns about access to voting.

“We want to live in a Georgia that works for everyone, a Georgia where every person has a voice in our democracy and doesn’t have to show up early to make it so because voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege for the wealthy few,” Abrams said.

The race leading up to election night was highly contested. During the primaries, former President Donald Trump endorsed Kemp’s opponent, former Senator David Perdue, in the Republican gubernatorial primaries. Kemp’s platform included issues like crime, Second Amendment protections and tax relief. Abrams’ platform included economic and social mobility.

Kemp supporters were confident that he would win prior to Abrams’s concession.

“I’m willing to bet my jacket that we win tonight without a runoff,” Hines said.