Gov. Brian Kemp, Stacey Abrams face off on abortion, voting rights in first debate

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams faced off in their first debate on Monday night ahead of November election.

The candidates, joined by Libertarian Shane Hazel, debated several hot topics likely to swing some voters come Election Day.

Voters will get another chance to hear from Kemp and Abrams again when they meet again in a debate hosted by WSB-TV on Sunday, October 30.

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Kemp issued what is likely his strongest stance against a full ban on abortion to date. He stated that he “would not” put any further restrictions in place on abortions or birth control than what is outlined in the state’s controversial “heartbeat” law.

The “heartbeat” law bans abortions after about the six week mark when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, but before many women know they are pregnant. It does include exceptions for cases of rape, incest and health risks to the mother.

Abrams criticized Kemp for his stance, calling him “extremist” on abortion.


Kemp and Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 election, continued their long-standing feud on voting rights when Abrams accused the governor of making it harder for Georgians to vote as the governor and also as the secretary of state.

The governor, in turn, reminded voters that he was among the first to reopen the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting the economy and getting students back into the classroom.

It still was not soon enough for Libertarian Hazel. He said the governor should have never followed any federal restrictions and should not have endorsed the COVID-19 vaccine.

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The debate also capped off the first day of early voting across the state. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also running for re-election against Democratic challenger Bee Nguyen, reported only minor issues at the polls.

The next gubernatorial debate will take place on Sunday, October 30 at the WSB-TV studios and will be broadcast live on Channel 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.