Just two months ago, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle ran 14 points ahead of Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the GOP primary for governor of Georgia. Cagle captured 39 percent of the vote, Kemp just 25 percent.
But in the runoff election today, Kemp bested Cagle by 39 points. The vote was 69.5 to 30.5.
The race turned against Cagle when a candidate who finished out of the money in the initial race secretly taped Cagle, who was trying to get the defeated candidate’s endorsement. As I discussed here, Cagle admitted supporting a school choice measure he thought ill-advised solely for political reasons. He also disparaged Republican primary voters, at least the ones who had voted for Kemp.
But it was President Trump’s endorsement of Kemp that seems to have turned the race into a rout. You can see this from the graph accompanying this tweet by Scott Paradise:
Here’s what the impact of an endorsement from @realDonaldTrump looks like in Georgia Governor’s race. Note the endorsement came late afternoon on 7/18.
Kemp will face Stacey Abrams in the general election. Abrams is seeking to become the first black female governor in U.S. history.
Kemp and Abrams both have run as immoderate candidates. Kemp aped President Trump, especially his political incorrectness. Abrams tacked hard to the left.
Kemp is strong on gun rights and vows to sign the nation’s toughest anti-abortion laws. Abrams vows to make protecting abortion rights a central part of her campaign.
Abrams’ top policy priority is an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. She says she will reverse an income tax cut to help fund the expansion.
Abrams also supports eliminating cash bail for poor defendants, ending capital punishment, and decriminalizing some marijuana offenses. Kemp favors tough-on-crime drug laws and backs a “public safety reform” package that includes higher police pay and new anti-gang initiatives.
Voter ID laws will also be a central issue. As Secretary of State, Kemp has backed strict ID requirements. Abrams made her name in part by opposing such requirements, and the two clashed over the validity of voter registrations Abrams obtained during a drive. Litigation ensued. Both candidates claimed victory.
Only one will be able to claim it in November.