After two years, over $65 million raised and 3.9 million votes cast, we still don’t know who the next governor of Georgia will be — but LGBTQ ally Stacey Abrams is pulling out all the stops to give her a chance to seal the deal.
“Votes remain to be counted. Voices waiting to be heard,” Abrams told supporters around 2 a.m. Wednesday at her election night watch party. “Across the state, folks are opening up the dreams of voters, and we believe our chance for a stronger Georgia is just within reach. We cannot seize it, however, until all voices are heard. And we are going to make sure that every vote is counted — because in a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work everywhere for everyone.”
Secretary of State Brian Kemp leads Abrams 50.33 percent to 48.72 percent, for a difference of around 60,000 votes. Kemp declared victory Wednesday evening according to the AJC, but Abrams said she wouldn't concede until all ballots are counted, and she's telling supporters to prepare for a Dec. 4 runoff.
“Since the beginning, our campaign has been committed to ensuring every eligible Georgians has the ability to make their voice heard at the ballot box,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ campaign manager, said in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “To date, we have made unprecedented investments in voter protection to counteract Secretary of State and Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp’s unethical efforts to disenfranchise Georgians in order to tip this highly competitive election in his favor.”
“The Stacey Abrams campaign is keeping our promise to Georgians to ensure that every single vote is counted, and every voice is heard,” Groh-Wargo added.
The Abrams campaign said in a press release that they were 15,000 votes above the runoff threshold as of about 10 a.m. Wednesday, but updated vote totals since then have increased that figure to around 30,000 votes.
The Abrams campaign said they believe there are around 14,000 outstanding ballots, with the majority of them from Abrams’ voters. They point to a variety of other factors in play that just might find them enough missing votes to get them to the runoff threshold. A Georgia candidate must get at least 50 percent plus one vote to win — otherwise, this race will go to a runoff.
Abrams would be Georgia’s first female governor and the nation’s first black female governor if elected. The former state House minority leader also became the first major party gubernatorial candidate in Georgia to sit for an LGBTQ Policy Roundtable Discussion, the first to speak to Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the first to speak from the stage at Atlanta Pride.
She’s a fervent opponent of anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” bills. She backed that sentiment, and her potential LGBTQ constituents, in multiple, extensive interviews with Project Q during the campaign.
Abrams runs a diverse campaign as well, with a staff of some 40 people, a third of whom are LGBTQ.
Kemp joined other candidates for governor in the Republican primary vowing to sign anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” legislation into law. After winning the nomination, Kemp said his position on such legislation would not change.
He later claimed he would veto any “religious freedom” bill that discriminates, and he promised to support a bill that mirrors a version that’s been federal law for 25 years. But LGBTQ activists said this version would still discriminate because courts have been interpreting the law in ways that the original sponsors of the federal law never intended.
Kemp courted the support of anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence, who canceled two visits to Georgia due to weather. Pence eventually held three rallies in the state for Kemp. An anti-LGBTQ lawmaker kicked two transgender people out of one of them despite any clear evidence of a reason.