Ge­or­gia’s Demo­cratic can­di­date for gover­nor vows to fight

Ri­val quits as sec­re­tary of state, main­tain­ing he’s won the elec­tion

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD - BY BILL BAR­ROW AND KATE BRUM­BACK

AT­LANTA — Repub­li­can Brian Kemp re­signed Thurs­day as Ge­or­gia sec­re­tary of state, a day af­ter his cam­paign said he had cap­tured enough votes to be­come gover­nor. His Demo­cratic ri­val, Stacey Abrams, re­fused to con­cede, and her cam­paign de­manded that state of­fi­cials “count ev­ery sin­gle vote.”

As the state’s top elec­tion of­fi­cial, Kemp over­saw the race, a mar­quee con­test in the na­tion’s midterms. His res­ig­na­tion Thurs­day morn­ing came as a hear­ing be­gan for a law­suit in which five vot­ers asked that he be barred from ex­er­cis­ing his du­ties in any fu­ture man­age­ment of his own elec­tion tally.

Abrams’ cam­paign had re­peat­edly ac­cused Kemp of im­prop­erly us­ing his post as sec­re­tary of state and had been call­ing for him to step down for months, say­ing his con­tin­u­a­tion in the job was a con­flict of in­ter­est. Kemp made clear that he wasn’t step­ping down in re­sponse to that crit­i­cism, but to start on his tran­si­tion to the gover­nor’s of­fice.

His res­ig­na­tion took ef­fect just be­fore noon Thurs­day. He said an in­terim sec­re­tary of state had been ap­pointed to over­see the rest of the vote count. The As­so­ci­ated Press has not called the elec­tion.

Shortly af­ter Kemp’s an­nounce­ment, Abrams’ cam­paign and its le­gal team held a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce that they would not give up the fight to have all bal­lots counted. They in­sisted enough votes re­mained un­counted to af­fect the out­come of the elec­tion.

“This is all pub­lic in­for­ma­tion, ladies and gen­tle­men, pub­lic in­for­ma­tion,” said cam­paign man­ager Lau­ren Groh-Wargo. “We de­mand that Sec­re­tary of State Kemp, his cam­paign ... they need to re­lease all the data, all the num­bers, and they need to count ev­ery sin­gle vote.”

The lawyers said they planned to file a law­suit against of­fi­cials in Dougherty County, where they said ab­sen­tee bal­lots were de­layed be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Michael, which dev­as­tated parts of south Ge­or­gia.

They also said they asked the court to en­sure those votes are counted, and to re­quire that elec­tions of­fi­cials pre­serve all po­ten­tial ev­i­dence about the vote count.

Pre­vi­ously, Abrams had pointed to bal­lots that had yet to be counted in metro At­lanta coun­ties where she won a large share of the vote. Her cam­paign has said she must pick up about 15,000 votes to se­cure a runoff in De­cem­ber.

With­out pro­vid­ing specifics, Kemp said in a WSB ra­dio in­ter­view that the num­ber “is ac­tu­ally more like 30,000 votes.”

At a news con­fer­ence with Gov. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., late Thurs­day morn­ing, Kemp de­clared that there are only about 20,000 pro­vi­sional bal­lots that have not yet been counted in the race. He did not of­fer any de­tails, but in re­sponse to a ques­tion said he would ask about re­leas­ing coun­tyby-county re­sults.

Of Abrams, he said, “Even if she got 100 per­cent of those votes, we still win.”

In fact, Kemp’s of­fice did re­lease to the AP a county-level break­down about the same time he started speak­ing in Deal’s of­fice Thurs­day. The of­fice had not im­me­di­ately shared that re­quested in­for­ma­tion the day be­fore, how­ever, even as Kemp’s cam­paign cited the statewide es­ti­mate as his jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for declar­ing vic­tory.

If a runoff is nec­es­sary, it will take place Dec. 4, ex­tend­ing Abrams’ bid to be­come the first black woman elected gover­nor in Amer­i­can his­tory, while Kemp looks to main­tain the GOP’s dom­i­na­tion in a state where Democrats haven’t won a gover­nor’s race since 1998.

Florida faced the prospect of re­counts in the ra­zor-thin races for gover­nor and U.S. Se­nate, po­ten­tially pro­long­ing the bat­tle over two of this year’s most-closely watched cam­paigns.

In the gover­nor’s race, Demo­crat An­drew Gil­lum’s cam­paign said Thurs­day it’s pre­pared for a pos­si­ble re­count. He con­ceded to Repub­li­can Ron DeSan­tis on Tues­day night, though the mar­gin of the race has since tight­ened. As of Thurs­day af­ter­noon, DeSan­tis held a lead of 0.47 per­cent­age point over Gil­lum.

Mean­while, Sen. Bill Nel­son, D-Fla., has al­ready started pre­par­ing for a po­ten­tial re­count in a race that re­mains too close to call against Gov. Rick Scott, a Repub­li­can. Nel­son’s lawyer called that race a “jump ball” — though Scott’s cam­paign urged Nel­son to con­cede. Scott held a 0.21point lead over Nel­son on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Sarah Rev­ell, a spokes­woman for the Florida De­part­ment of State, said she didn’t know of any other re­count in a gover­nor or Se­nate race in Florida his­tory. She was re­search­ing the sub­ject Thurs­day.

Un­der Florida law, a re­count is manda­tory if the win­ning can­di­date’s mar­gin is less than 0.5 of a point when the first un­of­fi­cial count is ver­i­fied Satur­day by the sec­re­tary of state.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has called the gover­nor’s race for DeSan­tis. If Satur­day’s count shows DeSan­tis with a mar­gin nar­row enough to trig­ger a re­count, AP will re­tract its call for DeSan­tis. It is AP pol­icy not to call a race that is fac­ing a re­count.

The AP has not called a win­ner in the Se­nate race.

Florida vot­ers de­cided to phase out grey­hound rac­ing by 2021, mean­ing thou­sands of dogs will soon need new homes.

The state voted 69 to 31 per­cent Tues­day to pass Amend­ment 13, which bans the sport be­gin­ning Jan. 1, 2021. It is an over­whelm­ing de­feat for an in­dus­try al­ready in de­cline, with 50 tracks clos­ing na­tion­ally over the past 30 years be­cause of shrink­ing crowds and an­i­mal rights protests.

Florida’s 11 dog tracks con­sti­tute al­most twothirds of those re­main­ing na­tion­ally. When they close, the sport may be too small to sur­vive long term. Two tracks re­main in West Vir­ginia and one each in Alabama, Arkansas and Iowa. In Texas, three tracks ro­tate an an­nual meet.

Abrams

Kemp

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