SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign claims victory, saying he has enough votes to become Georgia’s next governor, but Democrat Stacey Abrams' campaign isn’t convinced with tens of thousands of votes yet to be counted.
We caught up with local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Republican Congressman Buddy Carter says he’s excited to work with Brian Kemp as Georgia governor. Democratic State Senator Lester Jackson says until all votes are counted Friday, no one should be announcing a win.
More than 24 hours after the Georgia polls closed, the states top job is still contested. Republican Candidate Brian Kemp, who was also in charge of counting the votes as Secretary of State, says based on the numbers he won. Kemp announced during a news conference with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal that he will be stepping down as Secretary of State, effective at noon on Thursday, Nov. 8.
Gov. Deal has appointed former Georgia Department of Human Services Coordinator Robyn A. Crittenden to serve as secretary of state for the reminder of Kemp’s turn. Crittenden took the oath of office Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, who joined Kemp Monday on his last trip to Savannah ahead of the election, says he’s looking forward to continued conservative Republican leadership at the state capitol.
“I’m delighted. I’ve worked with Brian Kemp in the past, served in the state Senate with him and of course when he was secretary of state, and I know him to be a fine fellow, and I’m certain he will do an excellent job as our next governor," Representative Carter said.
On a call Wednesday night with media, Stacey Abrams' campaign manager put their reaction to Kemp’s announcement plainly.
“We are here tonight to say we do not accept that," said Lauren Groh-Wargo.
State Senator Lester Jackson, who campaigned with Abrams in Savannah Monday, agrees.
“I think someone declaring victory is a little premature," said Senator Jackson.
Abrams says she won’t concede right now knowing there are about 25,000, including 3,000 absentee and 22,000 provisional votes, still being counted. Jackson says waiting until they are is the only way to ensure every vote means something.
“When the margins are this close, around 50,000, we should absolutely wait until every vote, every provisional ballot, every absentee ballot, every ballot from overseas is counted, because we feel when these numbers come in, it’s going to be closer than what we initially thought," Jackson said.
The Stacey Abram’s legal team claimed during a news conference on Thursday afternoon that they had received complaints that Chatham County had run out of provisional ballots. WTOC spoke with the county election board, they say that eight polling locations did ask for more provisional ballots. An official with the elections board said that two locations did run out of provisional ballots, but more were delivered and no voters were turned away by a poll worker for a lack of provisional ballots.
Rep. Carter says there’s no reason voters shouldn’t be confident in the election results.
“None whatsoever. I think this election has been run properly. I think it’s been safe and secure. I think everyone’s vote has been counted, and certainly, that’s important," Carter said.
Jackson says the only way to make sure every vote counts is to make sure each vote is counted.