Kemp declares victory, but Abrams says not so fast

ATLANTA — Two days after polls closed in the race for Georgia’s next governor, things got even more heated.

One side declared victory, with the other still promising to fight.

Republican Brian Kemp moved forward with the transition to the state's Capitol on Thursday, but the team for Democrat Stacey Abrams says every vote should be counted first.

“It’s a very polarizing climate that we’ve been in. It was a tough election, but we’ve won, and now I’ve got to move on, but the process is true and has been for many, many years in Georgia,” Kemp said.


“We are in this race until we are convinced that every vote is counted,” Abrams' campaign chairperson Allegra Lawrence-Hardy said.

Lawrence-Hardy told reporters Thursday afternoon that the campaign has assembled a high-power legal team to take its fight to the courts.

[Click here for real-time election results]

“We’re getting flooded with information. We are not going to file hyperbolic, erroneous lawsuits. We are going to take action that we think will move the needle and serve the people of Georgia. That is how we are going to operate here,” Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant has been digging into the numbers. Preliminary results show Abrams still needs about 26,000 votes to force a runoff with Kemp, who resigned as Georgia's secretary of state on Thursday.

Abrams’ legal team is now laser focused on Election Day irregularities and county election offices, which the secretary of state’s office said are still processing about 25,000 provisional and absentee ballots.

“We do not believe any of these numbers are credible,” Groh-Wargo said.

Gov. Nathan Deal stood alongside Kemp at the state Capitol as he announced his transition team.

Kemp said he remains confident in the integrity of Georgia’s election system and had a message for the Abrams camp.

“Even if she got 100 percent of the votes, we still win with a 50 percent plus one vote majority. Actually, it’s much more than that. So, we’re moving forward with the transition,” Kemp said.

Abrams' legal team has already filed one lawsuit in Dougherty County seeking extensions for absentee ballots that were delayed after Hurricane Michael did a lot of damage there.

Abrams' lawyers also said they're in the process of sending official legal hold notices to all 159 Georgia county election offices demanding that they preserve all records related to the election.

Gov. Nathan Deal, Brian Kemp hold news conference

Governor Nathan Deal and Brian Kemp are holding a news conference to "discuss the administration transition process." (LATEST: 2wsb.tv/2Dcr3Uf)

Posted by WSB-TV on Thursday, November 8, 2018
Stacey Abrams's legal team responds to Brian Kemp's victory declaration

Stacey Abrams' legal team is responding to Brian Kemp's victory declaration in the race for Georgia governor. (LATEST: 2wsb.tv/2DdDyhY)

Posted by WSB-TV on Thursday, November 8, 2018
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