GOP candidates for Georgia governor ready for runoff

Stacey Abrams wins Democratic primary in gubernatorial race

Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle celebrate Republican Primary victories Tuesday night.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle celebrate Republican Primary victories Tuesday night. (Associated Press)

Stacey Abrams got immediate accolades and attention nationally as Georgia Democrats nominated her for the state’s top job, but any focus on her chances of becoming the nation’s first black female governor has to wait for her Republican opponent who won’t be decided for another two months.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp largely skipped the celebrations and pivoted directly to talk of a runoff contest that will decide who faces Abrams in November.

At his Athens watch party, Kemp told supporters, “I want to thank you all, our thousands of supporters around the state, for helping us punch our ticket to the runoff.”

At a gathering in Gainesville, Cagle told the crowd: “It’s great to come in first place. We’ve got a lot more to be done.”

“We are right where we need to be in terms of this runoff,” Cagle said.

Cagle won 38 percent of the vote and Kemp 25 percent to beat four GOP rivals in a race characterized by strong support for gun rights and tough talk on immigration.

The field was all white men: former legislators, officeholders and businessmen, some with decades of political experience and others positioning themselves as outsiders challenging the establishment.

Cagle garnered national headlines in February when he threatened to kill a tax break benefiting Delta Air Lines, one of Georgia’s largest employers, for ending a discount program for members of the National Rifle Association.

Kemp garnered strong criticism — and national headlines — with a series of campaign ads including one where he says he has a big truck, “Just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.”

In the ballroom of a downtown Atlanta hotel, Abrams thanked supporters and outlined her vision for the future.

She drew loud and sustained applause when she told the crowd, “We can repeal campus carry and we can expand HOPE,” referring to a law that allows guns to be brought onto college campuses and a popular scholarship program.

Abrams said: “We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired.”

Abrams and the winner of the Republican runoff for governor will face independent Larry Odom and Libertarian Ted Metz in November. The candidates are vying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has held the office since 2011.

Down ballot races

All of Georgia's statewide constitutional offices are up for grabs this election cycle, including those vacated by Cagle and Kemp, as well as the position of insurance commissioner vacated by Ralph Hudgens, who isn't seeking re-election.

Five of Georgia's U.S. House members faced primary challengers, but not Coastal Georgia's U.S. Rep. Chip Carter. He will be challenged in November by Lisa Ring, a former corrections officer and mother of four, who received 67 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Georgia's 180 state House and 56 state Senate seats are also up for a vote. Republicans voters chose Steven Meeks in a primary for District 178 and picked Steven Sainz over incumbent Jason Spencer.

Primary results in federal, state offices

Voters across Southeast Georgia counties also chose county commissioners, board of education members and voiced their opinions in several ballot questions. For full results, check your county results page:

County-by-county results: Camden, Charlton, Clinch counties |
Glynn County | Brantley, Ware, Pierce county races

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