Republican Brian Kemp won a second term as Georgia's governor.
Stacey Abrams sought to oust Kemp from office in a rematch of their 2018 gubernatorial contest.
Kemp touted his conservative record as governor, while Abrams wants a new approach in Atlanta.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in Georgia's gubernatorial election.
Polls closed in the state at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Georgia's gubernatorial candidates
Kemp, a former Georgia secretary of state, has governed in tandem with the GOP-controlled state legislature, signing into law a controversial voting law and new congressional maps that were favorable to the party.
However, Kemp has also frustrated the most prominent Republican official in the country — former President Donald Trump.
For almost two years now, Trump has lobbed political broadsides against Kemp, criticizing him for declining to back up his claims that the 2020 presidential election in Georgia was rife with fraud.
Their relationship was not always so complicated.
During his first gubernatorial campaign, Kemp ran as a staunch ally of Trump.
The former president credits his endorsement of Kemp as a turning point in boosting the now-governor in both the 2018 Republican primary and in that year's general election.
Despite Kemp's success, Democrats have made significant strides in Georgia of late. President Joe Biden won Georgia in November 2020, and Trump pressured Kemp to help overturn the results for weeks after the election; the governor did not acquiesce to his demands.
However, Kemp went on to win the May primary in a landslide, and Trump has not yet indicated if he'll support the governor's reelection bid, though he told Fox News Digital last month that he was "looking" at potentially making an endorsement.
Abrams — an attorney and author who has become one of the national Democratic Party's brightest stars since her narrow 2018 loss — is hoping to take back the Governor's Mansion after nearly 20 years of continuous GOP rule.
She is running on a platform of reforming the state's health care system, while also speaking candidly about her past opposition to abortion and why she now supports women having access to the procedure.
Kemp is hoping the state's longtime conservative lean — along with Biden's middling approval ratings — will aid him in his reelection bid, while Abrams is banking on the slew of new and younger residents who have registered to vote over the past four years and want to see a different direction in state government.
Georgia's voting history
Throughout the entire 20th century, Georgia — once a part of the "Solid South" — only elected Democratic governors.
However, Republican Sonny Perdue upset then-Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes in 2002. The result was a preview of the coming GOP dominance for much of the next two decades. Republicans have won every governor's race since Perdue's 2002 victory and have had full control of the state legislature since 2005.
Cracks in the GOP veneer have become more visible in recent years, though; Abrams only lost her race by 1.4-percentage points in 2018. Biden won the state's electoral votes in 2020. And the Peach State now has two Democratic US senators — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — who both defeated sitting GOP senators in January 2021.
The money race
Kemp has raised over $54 million for his reelection bid and had $15.4 million in cash on hand as of September 30, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Abrams has so far raised more than $85 million for her gubernatorial campaign and had over $11 million in the bank, according to the newspaper.
What experts say
The race between Abrams and Kemp is rated as "tilt Republican" by Inside Elections, "lean Republican" by The Cook Political Report, and "likely Republican" by Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
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