Georgia’s Brian Kemp (R.) has held on to the Governor’s mansion.
For the second time in as many elections, Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams. Multiple outlets have called the race in Kemp’s favor, though the final margin will likely take a while longer to tabulate.
The final margin will provide more insight into how impactful the outcome will be on future election strategies. However, one clear takeaway is the race’s focus on gun policy did not help Abrams pull off a win. The campaign was one of the highest-profile to feature guns as a top issue, and the substantial policy differences between Kemp and Abrams made it a bellwether for gun policy.
Kemp’s successful effort to institute permitless gun-carry was a consistent point of contention between the two candidates. Abrams accused Kemp of making it easier for criminals to carry guns.
“Brian Kemp knows that his legislation – which he did not seriously advocate until he faced a tough primary challenge – is opposed by 7 in 10 Georgians and would make it easier for many criminals to carry concealed weapons on our streets,” Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Abrams, told The Reload in February. “The permit system was just fine to him for the first three years he was in office.”
“Obviously, those individuals shouldn’t be allowed to carry,” Kemp responded. “The legislation would prevent that. But when you have people that break the law, they don’t really care about this.”
He also accused Abrams of wanting to confiscate Georgians’ guns.
“What’s more concerning about Stacey Abrams is her words prior to what she said on WSB radio, and it’s that she wants to confiscate your guns,” Kemp said.
Abrams was one of six co-sponsors of a 2016 Georgia bill that would have outlawed the sale and possession of numerous guns, such as the AR-15s, and “large-capacity” magazines. It would have required Georgians to destroy or surrender their “assault weapons” and magazines within 90 days. Otherwise, they risked having those guns seized by law enforcement. The bill never passed, and Abrams has remained ambiguous about whether or not she favors confiscation.
The Abrams campaign told The Reload that the Governor’s comments on gun confiscation were “scare tactics.”
“Stacey Abrams supports the Second Amendment with common sense gun safety laws supported by a majority of gun owners,” Bringman said.
But Kemp told The Reload Abrams is anti-gun.
“Well, I think if you really translate what she’s saying is she doesn’t want law-abiding people to have firearms and to be able to carry,” Kemp said.
Ultimately, voters sided with Kemp. The outcome of other key races, such as the New York governor race and the battle for control of Congress, will provide deeper insight into how guns affected the election. But wins from Kemp and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R.) are early bright spots for gun-rights advocates.