ATLANTA - Votes are still coming in to decide who will be Georgia's next governor, but Republican Brian Kemp's campaign declared its candidate the winner Wednesday evening. However, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is not giving up.
Watch Channel 2 Action News at Noon for the latest on this developing story.
Kemp has 50 percent of the votes and Abrams has 49 percent. The secretary of state's office said there are just 25,000 votes left to be counted. Less than 63,000 votes currently separate the two candidates.
#Breaking Kemp campaign is declaring victory. "I think the message is clear. This election is over. The votes have been counted. Brian Kemp is Governor-Elect." -Austin Chambers, Kemp Campaign.— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) November 7, 2018
Kemp Campaign: "Brian Kemp has won this election and will maintain a margin above 50% where this does not go into a recount or into a runoff situation."— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) November 7, 2018
Channel 2's Justin Wilfon confirmed the Kemp campaign said in a conference call, “This campaign is over. Brian Kemp has won this election," saying it’s impossible for Abrams to find the votes to force a runoff.
“We’re declaring victory and moving forward with the transition.” That word from the Kemp campaign just now. @wsbtv— Justin Wilfon (@JustinWilfonWSB) November 7, 2018
Kemp's campaign said it'll start the transition process Thursday.
Cody Hall, the press secretary for the Kemp campaign, released the following statement Wednesday evening:
"Brian Kemp earned nearly two million votes on Tuesday - by far the most of any gubernatorial candidate in our state's history.
Absentee ballots are counted and Kemp leads his opponent by 64,000 votes. Based on counts released by the Secretary of State's office, Brian Kemp's margin is so large that the number of provisional ballots and overseas ballots will not change his Election Day victory. Simply put, it is mathematically impossible for Stacey Abrams to win or force a run-off election.
Peach State voters made a clear decision at the ballot box. Brian Kemp will now begin his transition as governor-elect of Georgia. He will work every day to keep our state moving in the right direction."
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., congratulated Kemp, releasing the following statements, respectively.
“I have called to congratulate Governor-Elect Brian Kemp on his election as Georgia's 83rd Governor. I look forward to working with him to continue fully funding our public schools, cutting taxes on families and businesses and keeping Georgia the best state in the nation in which to do business. I know Governor Kemp will be an invaluable partner in the work ahead.”
- Speaker David Ralston
“Georgians sent a clear message that they are committed to keeping our state on track. Despite liberal Democrats from outside Georgia spending tens of millions of dollars in our state, it still didn’t work. The people of Georgia flatly rejected socialism. They rejected a single-payer health care system. They rejected open borders and sanctuary cities. They made it clear that the Democrats' path to the presidency in 2020 will not run through Georgia. Brian Kemp is a strong leader and businessman who will continue to build on our state's success. Congratulations to Brian on becoming Georgia’s next Governor, and I will work with him to keep Georgia the best state in the country in which to do business.”
- Sen. Perdue
Wilfon confirmed Abrams will not concede Wednesday night. She believes she has the votes to force a runoff after all the absentee and provisional ballots are counted.
The Abrams campaign said they want to see “every vote counted.”
Abrams campaign says they want to see “every vote counted.” @wsbtv— Justin Wilfon (@JustinWilfonWSB) November 8, 2018
“There is no reason for us not to fight for every vote.” — Stacey Abrams campaign just moments ago. @wsbtv— Justin Wilfon (@JustinWilfonWSB) November 8, 2018
Wilfon confirmed there are still around 3,000 provisional ballots to process in DeKalb County, which means there are about 11,000 provisional ballots to sort through between DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties.
Rivals long before the campaign, Abrams and Kemp have been sharply divided on many of the state’s biggest debates, such as tax policy, criminal justice, illegal immigration and climate change. And though they often focus on state-related issues, the race has gained national attention.
Greg Bluestein with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.
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