Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp Resigns as He Appears to Win Race

By Zachary Stieber

Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp resigned as secretary of state on Nov. 8 as he appeared to definitively win the race for governor.

Kemp’s office announced that Kemp had tendered his resignation letter to Gov. Nathan Deal and that it was effective at 11:59 a.m. on Nov. 8.

“We deeply appreciate Brian Kemp’s public service as Secretary of State. We will continue our work in this office on behalf of all Georgians. We are excited to welcome Robyn A. Crittenden to the agency to serve as our Secretary of State,” stated Lorri Smith, assistant deputy secretary of state said in a statement.

Kemp said in his letter to Deal that he resigned to focus on transitioning to being the state’s governor.

“I look forward to serving as Georgia’s 83rd Governor and building on the success of your tenure as the leader of our state,” Kemp wrote.

Brian Kemp says he won gubernatorial race
Secretary of State and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp addresses the audience and declares victory during an election watch party in Athens, Georgia on July 24, 2018. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Kemp Appears to Win

Kemp was locked in a tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams but appears to have won, despite her refusal to concede.

Georgia law dictates a runoff if both candidates receive less than 50 percent of the vote. According to unofficial results posted by the secretary of state’s office, 100 percent of the precincts have reported as of 10:40 a.m. and Kemp won 50.33 percent of the vote.

Kemp said earlier on Thursday that only 20,000 provisional ballots remain uncounted and that even if Abrams “got 100 percent of those votes, we still win.”

Kemp’s statement was made during a news conference with Deal, in which it was announced an interim secretary will oversee the rest of the vote counting.

Late on Wednesday, his aide, Ryan Mahoney, told reporters on a conference call, “We are declaring victory.”

“The message here is pretty simple: This election is over, and the results are clear,” Campaign official Austin Chambers said.

Georgia gubernatorial candidates (L-R) Clash in First Debate
Georgia gubernatorial candidates (L-R) Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp debate in an event that also included Libertarian Ted Metz at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Midtown October 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images)

Abrams’s campaign claimed early Thursday that there were still enough uncounted votes to force a Dec. 4 runoff but didn’t cite a source for the claim.

In turn, Abrams’s campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, said Kemp has offered no proof of why anyone should take his word. In a statement, the Georgia Democratic Party called Kemp’s “self-coronation” a “legally meaningless political stunt.”

In Georgia, Local officials are responsible for counting the votes, including provisional ballots. County officials have until next Tuesday to certify their results and send them to Kemp’s office. Statewide certification must come by Nov. 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.