Trump says Kemp won Ge­or­gia gov­er­nor’s race

Tampa Bay Times - - Nation & World -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Donald Trump on Fri­day threw fresh sup­port be­hind Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Brian Kemp, whose too-close-to-call race with Demo­crat Stacey Abrams has de­volved into chaos amid re­ports of vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and miss­ing or un­counted bal­lots.

With elec­tion of­fi­cials still tal­ly­ing votes, Trump de­clared Kemp the win­ner and called for the gu­ber­na­to­rial tran­si­tion to be­gin.

“(Kemp) ran a great race in Ge­or­gia — he won,” the pres­i­dent wrote on Twit­ter. “It is time to move on!”

Kemp first de­clared vic­tory over Abrams on Wed­nes­day night, as a flurry of re­ports de­scribed lengthy vot­ing lines, miss­ing or in­op­er­a­ble equip­ment and a dearth of pro­vi­sional bal­lots in key precincts dur­ing the pre­vi­ous day’s elec­tion.

The As­so­ci­ated Press still had not called the race, and Abrams, vow­ing to fight un­til every bal­lot is pro­cessed, had not con­ceded.

Kemp led Abrams by about 63,000 votes as of mid­day Fri­day, hold­ing 50.3 per­cent to Abrams’ 48.7 per­cent. His lead had nar­rowed as more votes were counted. If nei­ther can­di­date wins 50 per­cent by the time all votes are counted, the race will ad­vance to a runoff.

Kemp’s role as Ge­or­gia sec­re­tary of state be­fore and dur­ing the elec­tion has come un­der scru­tiny, as vot­ing rights ad­vo­cates ac­cuse him of us­ing his po­si­tion to in­flu­ence the gu­ber­na­to­rial race. Kemp has de­nied al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety and re­signed from his post mid­day Thurs­day.

Abrams cam­paign man­ager Lau­ren Groh-Wargo an­nounced a pre­lim­i­nary le­gal vic­tory, say­ing that a judge had is­sued a stay in the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of results in Dougherty County fol­low­ing a law­suit by the cam­paign. The county was hard-hit by Hur­ri­cane Michael, prompt­ing re­ports of of­fices be­ing closed and ab­sen­tee bal­lots be­ing sent late.

At a news con­fer­ence in At­lanta, Groh-Wargo said the cam­paign’s voter pro­tec­tion hot­line had re­ceived thou­sands of calls at­test­ing to vot­ing prob­lems that dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected peo­ple of color, stu­dents and reg­is­tered Democrats.

“Brian Kemp has abused his power and used the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice as a tax­payer-funded arm of his cam­paign, and he is bul­ly­ing elec­tions of­fi­cials into hur­riedly cer­ti­fy­ing the elec­tion de­spite all the votes not be­ing counted,” she said.

Kemp on Thurs­day de­fended his han­dling of the elec­tion.

“The in­tegrity of the process has been clear in Ge­or­gia,” he said af­ter an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion. “The elec­tion in­tegrity is beyond doubt.”

Abrams is run­ning to be the coun­try’s first fe­male black gov­er­nor in a con­test that was char­ac­ter­ized by ugly racial over­tones. Trump en­dorsed Kemp’s gen­eral­elec­tion bid in Oc­to­ber, call­ing Abrams “to­tally un­qual­i­fied.”

Kemp

Abrams

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