ELECTION UPDATE | Kemp resigns as Georgia secretary of state
ATLANTA (AP) — Republican Brian Kemp resigned Thursday as Georgia’s secretary of state, a day after his campaign said he’s captured enough votes to become governor, even though his election rival is conceding nothing in one of the nation’s marquee midterm races.
As the state’s top election official, Kemp oversaw the race, and his resignation Thursday morning came as a hearing began for a lawsuit in which five voters asked that he be barred from exercising his duties in any future management of his own election tally. Democratic rival Stacey Abrams’ campaign had repeatedly accused Kemp of improperly using his post as secretary of state.
Kemp’s resignation takes effect just before noon Thursday.
Abrams has pointed to ballots that have yet to be counted and says there’s still the possibility of a December runoff. Her campaign has said she must pick up about 15,000 votes to do so.
Kemp said Abrams is using “old math.” Without providing specifics, he said in a WSB Radio interview that the number “is actually more like 30,000 votes.”
The Associated Press has not called the election.
At a news conference with outgoing Republican Gov. Nathan Deal late Thursday morning, Kemp declared that there are only about 20,000 provisional ballots that have not yet been counted in the race. He did not offer any details, but in response to a question said he would ask about releasing county-by-county results.
Of Abrams, he said, “Even if she got 100 percent of those votes, we still win.”
Late Wednesday afternoon — after a day of the campaigns, media and partisan observers scrambling for information about outstanding votes across Georgia’s 159 counties — Kemp aide Ryan Mahoney told reporters on a conference call, “We are declaring victory.” Campaign official Austin Chambers, added: “The message here is pretty simple: This election is over, and the results are clear.”
Abrams’ campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo retorted a few hours later that the Kemp campaign offered “no proof” other than nonspecific provisional ballot counts released by Kemp’s official state office.
“He’s offered ... no indication of why we should take him at his word,” Groh-Wargo said. “The sitting secretary of state has declared himself” the winner.
The standoff leaves open the possibility of litigation as Abrams’ campaign has pushed for the continued counting of absentee, mail-in and provisional ballots, and renewed its concerns that Kemp was the chief elections officer supervising his own election, a race already marked by disputes over the voting process.