Kemp’s cam­paign de­clares vic­tory in gov­er­nor’s race

The Mercury News - - News - By Bill Bar­row and Ben Nadler

AT­LANTA >> Repub­li­can Brian Kemp’s cam­paign de­clared vic­tory Wed­nes­day in the Ge­or­gia gov­er­nor’s race, though Demo­crat Stacey Abrams in­sists that enough bal­lots re­main to leave open the pos­si­bil­ity of a runoff in a race that Kemp over­sees as sec­re­tary of state.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has not called the con­test.

Ryan Ma­honey, a top Kemp cam­paign ad­viser, told re­porters in a con­fer­ence call that the num­bers show Abrams can’t win and a runoff won’t hap­pen — but stopped short of declar­ing vic­tory un­til pressed by an As­so­ci­ated Press re­porter. Only then did Ma­honey say Kemp is cer­tain of vic­tory and pre­par­ing to take of­fice in Jan­uary.

“We are declar­ing vic­tory,” Ma­honey said. An­other cam­paign of­fi­cial, Austin Cham­bers, added: “The mes­sage here is pretty sim­ple: This elec­tion is over, and the re­sults are clear.”

Kemp was not on the call but is ex­pected to speak pub­licly to­day, the same day that a fed­eral judge in At­lanta holds the first hear­ing on an Elec­tion Day law­suit that seeks to have Kemp barred from hav­ing any fur­ther role in man­ag­ing the elec­tion.

The Abrams cam­paign re­sponded late Wed­nes­day that Kemp’s state of­fice had not shared with the pub­lic or with the Abrams’ cam­paign the de­tailed data be­hind his claims, in­stead ask­ing Ge­or­gians to take him at his word.

“The sit­ting sec­re­tary of state has de­clared him­self” the win­ner, said Abrams’ cam­paign man­ager Lau­ren Groh-Wargo. “We don’t ac­cept or re­ject what he said. He needs to show proof.”

The stand­off leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity of lit­i­ga­tion as Abrams’ cam­paign spent the day push­ing for the con­tin­ued count­ing of ab­sen­tee, mail-in and pro­vi­sional bal­lots and re­new­ing its con­cerns that Kemp re­mains the chief elec­tions of­fi­cer su­per­vis­ing his own elec­tion, a

race al­ready marked by dis­putes over the vot­ing process.

With re­ported votes ex­ceed­ing 3.9 mil­lion — al­most 95 per­cent of Ge­or­gia’s 2016 pres­i­den­tial turnout — Kemp has just more than 50 per­cent.

Be­fore the Kemp cam­paign de­clared vic­tory Wed­nes­day, Groh-Wargo es­ti­mated that about 15,000 votes sep­a­rate Kemp from a runoff. She says at least that many out­stand­ing ab­sen­tee and mail-in bal­lots re­mained to be counted.

Kemp’s spokes­woman in the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice, Candice Broce, said that by Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon the num­ber of un­counted ab­sen­tee and mail-in bal­lots was less than 2,000 — with her boss still above the 50 per­cent thresh­old.

JOHN BAZE­MORE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Brian Kemp gives a thumbs-up to sup­port­ers on Wed­nes­day in Athens, Ga.

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