On Monday, candidates for Governor of Georgia debated some of the major issues, including voter suppression and access to birth control, as early voting opened in the state. Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp were joined by Libertarian Shane Hazel for an hour of debate (video at the end of this story) about some of the issues that will weigh heavily on the minds of voters.
While Kemp has an edge in polls, Hazel could serve as a spoiler, preventing either major party candidate from achieving the 50% necessary to prevent a run-off.
Abrams, who has been credited with helping Democrats elect Joe Biden and take the Senate in the 2020 elections with her voter outreach, was hit with perhaps the biggest question of the night: when opinion polls show that the majority of Georgia voters align with her on major issues, including gun control, abortion, and expansion of Medicaid, why is she not leading the polls? The Democratic candidate explained that the people she’s standing up for are the same ones often “left out of the conversation,” and that she doesn’t believe she’s actually behind.
Kemp was put on the spot with regard to access to contraceptives — a concern that has grown for women across the country since the overturn of Roe v. Wade. He insisted that he would not support a ban on contraceptives, despite recordings that have come out in recent weeks in which he appears to suggest otherwise, and that he’s content with the Heartbeat Bill, which already bans terminating a fetus so early in the pregnancy that many women don’t even know they’ve conceived yet.
Given the opportunity to explain how he’d protect hospitals and medical centers that are being forced to close, and the burnout medical workers are facing, Kemp dodged, saying, “There’s also hospitals being built,” and said he’s committed to working with Democrats to help people access health resources.
In the second portion of the debate, the candidates were permitted to ask questions of one another.
When Kemp tried to suggest she doesn’t support — or have the support of — law enforcement, Abrams responded with personal experience, describing her two brothers:
“[O]ne who has committed crimes, and I want his victims to be able to call the police and get the help they need…but I have another brother who has faced being pulled over for driving while black when he was coming back from his job as a social worker…Like most Georgians I lead a complicated life where we need access to help but we also need to know that we are safe from racial violence.”
They also clashed on background checks for gun sales, with Kemp insisting that this is already in place, and Abrams pointing out that it does not apply to private sales. (Kemp’s only rebuttal was to scold her for interrupting him.)
The full debate can be viewed below.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.