Abrams Continues Media Tour, Unloads on 'Insidious' Kemp After Georgia Election Loss

Kemp doesn't return fire: 'What Ms. Abrams does from here on out is her business'

Georgia gubernatorial candidates (L-R) Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp (Photo by John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images)
November 20, 2018

While Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is continuing to unload on Republican Governor-elect Brian Kemp since losing the election last week, he's not firing back, saying what she does with her time is her own business.

Abrams acknowledged defeat 10 days after the election on Friday, trailing by nearly 55,000 votes and more than 17,000 votes short of forcing a runoff. However, she did not give a normal concession speech, blasting her opponent as an architect of voter suppression and saying the "state failed its voters."

Since announcing the formation of a new group called "Fair Fight Georgia" and stating "major" litigation will be filed against Georgia over the election, Abrams has embarked on a national media tour and ripped Kemp every step of the way.

Asked to respond to her rhetoric, Kemp told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement that it was time to move on and Abrams could say what she pleased.

"It’s time to move beyond the divisive politics of the past and work towards a brighter, more prosperous future here in Georgia," he said in a statement. "What Ms. Abrams does from here on out is her business. The people elected me to serve as their 83rd Governor and I’m focused on advancing policies that put hardworking Georgians first."

Kemp stormed to the GOP nomination behind an embrace of President Donald Trump and ran on a conservative platform, emphasizing differences with Abrams on guns, abortion and health care, while also calling for tax cuts, deregulation, increased teacher pay and improvement in rural hospitals.

Abrams has conducted multiple national interviews since Friday airing grievances about the race and Kemp in particular.

"We don't know" how much Kemp's actions contributed to the election results "because of how insidious this behavior has been," Abrams said on NPR. "And that is why I was willing to acknowledge that the election is over. Because, given the current state of our laws, this is what is true. But my point is that it was not a fair fight."

Abrams said he engaged in "gross mismanagement" of elections while in his former posting.

"I'm not suggesting that I know I would have won, but I am saying that the results were unalterably made less safe and less secure because of the actions taken by the secretary of state," she said.

In an interview Sunday on CNN, Abrams told host Jake Tapper that Kemp had engaged in the "destruction of the administration of elections on the state of Georgia."

"Yes, there was a deliberate and intentional disinvestment and, I think, destruction of the administration of elections in the state of Georgia," Abrams said.

Tapper repeatedly asked her whether she viewed Kemp as the state's legitimate governor, but she would only say he was the "legal" victor.

"I will never deny the legal premature that says he is in this position, and I pray for his success. But will I say that this election was not tainted, was not a disinvestment and disenfranchisement of thousands of voters? I will not say that," Abrams said.

Speaking with MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Monday, Abrams said "it was not a free and fair election."

"Brian Kemp oversaw for eight years the systematic and systemic dismantling of our democracy, and that means there could not be free and fair elections in Georgia this year," she said.

Abrams also appeared to reject a professor's argument in Slate that Democrats should not call the election "stolen." Richard L. Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California–Irvine School of Law, argued such rhetoric further eroded American faith in the electoral process.

"I appreciate the professor's thinking, but coming from the vantage point of talking to thousands of voters who feel like their votes were not counted, their voices were not heard, they've already had their confidence eroded," she said.

She told MSNBC host Joy Reid that Kemp's victory was "legal" but also "wrong."

"I think it's wrong," she said. "I think that what happened is that we have watched systematic erosion of our democracy and over the course of time that was overseen directly by my opponent in the race, who also happened to be responsible for the administration of fair elections, and he didn't do so, and that's why I'm pushing for Fair Fight Georgia."

Nevertheless, she told Reid the election represented a "change in Georgia," and she declared Kemp's margin of victory "inconsequential" with the state going from red to purple. Democrats haven't won Georgia in a presidential election since 1992 and haven't won a governor's race there since 1998.

Abrams' rhetoric has been met with sharp rebukes from editorials in The Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal, with the latter saying Kemp did a lousy job of suppressing votes in his eight years as secretary of state, noting "Georgia’s voter rolls have swelled by more than 20% since 2010 amid an expansion in online registration":

Georgia’s "exact match" law enacted by the GOP Legislature last year requires information on voter registration applications to mirror the information on file at the Georgia Department of Driver Services and federal Social Security Administration. The law was intended to prevent groups from sloppily filling out applications for individuals, as Ms. Abrams’s New Georgia Project appears to have done.

Yet voters whose applications are flagged have 26 months to clear up discrepancies. They may also vote if they present a valid photo ID, as is required of all voters under Georgia law. Voters whose IDs don’t match the names on registration forms may still cast provisional ballots. In other words, nothing stopped legitimately registered voters from casting ballots—except perhaps the Democratic warnings that they may be deemed ineligible.

Democrats also howl that Mr. Kemp has cancelled some 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Mr. Kemp’s alleged offense: Complying with federal and state law. Under Georgia law, registered voters who haven’t voted in three years are sent notices to confirm their residency. If they don’t respond or vote in the following two general elections, they are removed from the rolls.

Georgia is merely implementing the federal 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to "conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names" of voters who are ineligible "by reason of" death or change in residence. In 2002 Congress added that "registrants who have not responded to a notice" and "have not voted in two consecutive general elections for Federal office shall be removed." Georgia’s registration procedures are similar to those in Ohio, which the Supreme Court upheld in June.