Brian Kemp was reelected as governor of Georgia Tuesday, defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams, according to a projection from CNN.
Kemp, who has been a fixture of Georgia’s government since 2003, is a staunch conservative. But he has had a fraught relationship with former President Donald Trump because of his refusal to go along with Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Georgia narrowly went for Joe Biden in that cycle, and his unexpected victory there was crucial to securing the presidency.
Democrats have been gaining momentum in the formerly deep red state, a development attributed to the growing influence of voters of color, in particular Black voters.
Abrams has been credited with playing a key role in Joe Biden’s 2020 win, having spent the better part of a decade building up Georgia’s Democratic organizing infrastructure and mobilizing the state’s expanding Black middle class.
Kemp and Abrams had previously gone head to head in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, with Kemp winning by just 54,723 votes, or about 1.4 percent. Abrams’s organization, Fair Fight Action, filed a lawsuit shortly thereafter alleging voter suppression, though a judge ruled against it this September.
Voting rights was a major point of contention in the leadup to the election. Last April, Kemp signed an egregious voter suppression law, sharply restricting access to absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes.
Abortion was another flashpoint in the race. Under Kemp’s governorship, Georgia passed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws, prohibiting the procedure after six weeks—before many people know they are pregnant. During a televised debate, Kemp refused to say whether he would further restrict access. Abrams promised to veto any additional tightening of abortion laws and to work to repeal the six-week ban.