ALANTA – Republican Brian Kemp congratulated Democrat Stacey Abrams on a hard-fought campaign for Georgia governor, but he says it's time to put the race behind him and focus on leading the state.
Kemp held a news conference Saturday, the day after Abrams acknowledged her GOP opponent had won. Abrams' speech marked the close of the 44-year-old attorney and former lawmaker's attempt to make history as America's first black woman governor. Her campaign insists that efforts to suppress turnout left thousands of ballots uncounted.
Kemp is the 55-year-old businessman who oversaw the election as Georgia's secretary of state. He will keep the governor's office in GOP hands as the state's third Republican governor since Reconstruction. He responded to Abrams' ending her campaign by calling for unity.
"The election is over, and I’m honored to be your governor-elect. It’s time to leave the divisive politics of the past behind us and focus on Georgia’s bright and promising future," Kemp said. "It’s been a long tough process. I certainly appreciate Stacey Abrams' tenacity, how hard she worked, the campaign she ran. She’s a very tough competitor, but I’m proud of what we did as well. We got more votes than any governor in Georgia history, and I’m proud of that, our folks are proud of that, but now we’re going to move forward."
Abrams still refused to concede, however, and accused Kemp of "gross mismanagement" in overseeing the election as Georgia's secretary of state. She said she plans to file a federal lawsuit challenging the way Georgia administers elections.
Kemp struck a more conciliatory tone toward Abram, and defended his victory. He said, "Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone."
He also indicated it's time for him to get to work. "I'm going to get into office and do what I told people I said I would do," Kemp said. I’m ready to get to work to cut taxes and focus on health care, especially rural health care.