Gov. Brian Kemp wins re-election in nation’s most watched governor’s race

Democrat Stacey Abrams concedes, falls short in second run at Georgia’s top elected office
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks about the economy July 29, 2022, in McDonough, Ga. The...
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks about the economy July 29, 2022, in McDonough, Ga. The Republican incumbent is proposing additional tax state income tax rebates and property tax breaks as part of his reelection campaign. (AP Photo/Megan Varner, File)(AP)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 11:11 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2022 at 11:40 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Gov. Brian Kemp won his bid for re-election Tuesday night, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams, who conceded the nation’s most watched governor’s race shortly before midnight.

Full interactive results of Georgia’s Nov. 8 elections

Atlanta News First reporter Patrick Quinn confirmed Abrams conceded the race around 11 p.m. CBS News called the race for Kemp around 11:30 p.m. Kemp claimed victory to his supporters shortly before 11:45 p.m.

Kemp and Abrams have been locked in an electoral battle since the May primaries that arguably became the nation’s most watched gubernatorial race of the 2022 midterms.

Who holds the balance of power? Full interactive results of the nation’s Nov. 8 elections

This year’s race was a rematch of their epic 2018 race, in which they both sought the governor’s mansion, as then-Gov. Nathan Deal was constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term. Kemp was then secretary of state, while Abrams had just finished up a term as a state House representative from intown Atlanta.

Full coverage of Georgia’s 2022 midterms

But this year’s rematch was much different from their 2018 encounter. Kemp relied on his four-year record as governor of mostly popular conservative philosophies; oversees a strong state economy; and seems to have weathered a blistering attack from former President Donald Trump for not overturning the outcome of state’s 2020 presidential election.

“It’s hard to find a GOP governor running for re-election under a better set of circumstances,” said Dr. Ben Taylor of Kennesaw State University. “You have a first-term Democratic president, meaning Republicans are motivated to vote; Kemp has suspended the gas tax from time to time, which is popular; the state has a big budget surplus; he’s taken positions on conservative issues that are endearing him to his base; and he’s getting a lot of positive press.”

Abrams, meanwhile, had been out of elected office for more than five years; was a strong supporter of President Joe Biden despite his dwindling national poll numbers; and consistently trailed Kemp throughout the summer and into the late fall in most polls.

Four years ago, Kemp defeated Abrams by about 55,000 votes in an election Abrams has yet to concede.

The two candidates could not have been more different in their beliefs. Kemp, despite criticism from Trump, is a strong supporter of traditionally GOP stances, including his signing of a ban on abortions after roughly six weeks. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Dobbs v. Jackson, that women do not have a constitutionally protected right to abortion.

Georgia’s ban, known as the Heartbeat Bill, went into effect a few short days after the ruling.

Abrams was a strong critic of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, and made national headlines during the campaign when she said, “There is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks. It is a manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.”

A few weeks earlier, Kemp was caught on record as seeming to be open to banning contraception “depending on where the legislatures are” during the next session.