Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are still battling it out as last-minute votes trickle in to determine the outcome of one of the most hotly contested and contentious gubernatorial races in the 2018 midterm elections.
As of Tuesday night, the races were too close to call, according to Fox News’ latest projections.
Kemp and Abrams are aiming to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, and hoping to escape a potential overtime run.
If neither candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, then they will head for a Dec. 4 runoff — the first general election gubernatorial runoff in the state’s history. Libertarian Party candidate Ted Metz could increase the likelihood of that happening if he peels away enough voters from Kemp and Abrams.
Kemp, the current secretary of state, announced his office was investigating “possible cyber crimes” by the Georgia Democratic Party, throwing a last-minute wrench into what was already a tight race. Abrams and the state Democratic party swiftly rejected the allegations, claiming there was “never a hack” and declaring it was a feeble attempt to “suppress the vote.”
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Abrams was hoping to make history Tuesday night — as the state’s first black governor, as well as break a decades-old red streak of gubernatorial victories in the Peach State. The state hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1998. However, Abrams previously emphasized she didn’t want people to support her based solely on those reasons.
“I don’t want anyone to vote for me because I’m black. And no one on the ballot needs a vote because we’re women. And I don’t even want you to vote for us just because we’re Democrats. You need to vote for us because we’re better,” she told a crowd in Savannah Monday.
Both candidates are being backed by big-name celebrities and political heavyweights: Kemp boasts the support of Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, while Abrams claims Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama.
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“Make history here in Georgia. Make things better here in Georgia,” Obama urged a crowd of voters last week while endorsing Abrams at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Trump stumped for Kemp, who he described as an “incredible fighter and tireless champion for the people.”
“Stacey Abrams is one of the most extreme, far-left politicians in the entire country… You put Stacey in there, and you’re gonna have Georgia turn into Venezuela. I don’t think the people of Georgia like that,” Trump said at an event in Macon on Sunday.
The opponents couldn’t be more different.
Abrams is running as an unapologetic liberal, marked by her pledge to reverse Georgia Republicans’ refusal to expand Medicaid insurance under Obama’s 2010 health care law. She’s already had a busy career — in politics and beyond.
The 44-year-old Yale Law School graduate is an award-winning romance author, co-founder of a financial services firm and history-making Democrat.
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She was sworn-in to serve in the state legislature in 2007, working more than 10 years as a Democrat representing Atlanta. In 2010, she became the first woman to lead a party in the Georgia General Assembly and first African-American to serve as minority leader in the House of Representatives, according to her campaign website.
“I’ve been lucky. I’ve led a life that demonstrates difference is not a barrier to achievement,” Abrams told Fortune Magazine in a June 2017 profile, noting she was inspired to run for governor after the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Kemp, on the other hand, has embraced Trump’s nationalistic tone. On his campaign website, the 55-year-old politician touts his record of creating jobs, slashing taxes and “streamlining” government.
A lifelong Georgian, Kemp became a small business owner after graduating from the University of Georgia, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. He owns Athens-based Kemp Properties, which specializes in real estate investments.
In the early 2000s, Kemp decided to enter politics. In 2002, he was elected to the State Senate, where he served until 2006.
“I just really became frustrated with the government and the leadership we had serving in the Georgia State Senate, so I decided to do something about it. I ran for the legislature against an incumbent, and just barely beat him, and served two terms in the legislature,” Kemp explained on his website.
He became Georgia’s secretary of state in 2010 after then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed him. He has since been re-elected twice to the position — which is tasked with overseeing state elections.
Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.