Brian Kemp could not stop talking Monday about the gas tax. Stacey Abrams claimed to be “on the right side” of history, while Stacey Abrams, a libertarian lacking verbal skills, stumbled through a Murray Rothbard quote, and decried “both parties’ use of force and coercion.
The Georgia gubernatorial election was predictable.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution hosted the debate which confirmed our knowledge about both candidates. Kemp is a competent, but uncharismatic governor. Kemp is more comfortable talking about tax cuts and conservative social priorities than Kemp. Abrams, a professional progressive, struggles to get rid of her activist vocabulary and adopt the moderate tone needed to win governor’s mansion for a Southern state.
Kemp was questioned by the moderators from the gate about a leaked recording, in which he indicated his willingness to ban abortion drugs like Plan B. Although the possibility of such a ban was not as unlikely as it might seem, the Georgia legislature had already passed a six-week abortion ban for 2019. Kemp retracted from his comments and said that it wasn’t his desire to ban the morning-after pill. He quickly reverted to the consultant-approved slogan, that his focus was not unborn life but “40-years-high inflation and high gasoline prices, and other things that our Georgia family are currently facing right now.”
Abrams was then asked by the panel of journalists who assisted the moderator to answer questions about her past attempts to deny her defeat in 2018 and to explain why she called the election “rigged.” Abrams refused a retreat from the substance her voter-suppression claims and instead turned the question to Kemp. She cited an anonymous “homeless” woman who had “just today” been denied the right to vote. Kemp called the “hallmark of governor’s leadership” “suppression”.
Kemp responded by pointing out record black turnouts in recent elections, and the election-integrity initiative passed after 2020’s election. He also said, in a line that won his the night, “In Georgia it’s easy vote and difficult to cheat.”
Kemp was reluctant to discuss culture war issues throughout the debate. Kemp made a vague allusion to “protecting girls’ sports” in the final moments of the debate. He also offered a halfhearted defense for the state’s “divisive concept” law that prohibits public school teachers telling students they are guilty of hereditary blood. He stated that he was in favor of adding “counselors to schools,” which to this author suggests that he has lost all the point.
Abrams complained that teachers were required to teach to “divisive concepts,” which is a frightening thought.
Shane Hazell, Republican representative, was the libertarian on stage. He was comically unprepared and spoke over all the candidates, reciting the most banal and undercooked libertarian bromides (“taxation theft!”). “, “Make Georgia freedom !”). He looked like a young pastor who accidentally stumbled onto the stage of the Georgia gubernatorial election debate.
Although his presence was irritating, it added moments of color. Abrams’s most memorable moment was in an exchange with Hazell, where she asked Hazell if he was concerned about companies that had bought more than one million acres in Georgia farmland.
Hazell stated that libertarians believe you are the owner of your property and that the state cannot take it away. He also said that he believes that the market will prevail in the end.
Hazell’s greatest moment was when he asked Kemp about his decision to close down certain businesses during the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. Hazell presented his absurd argument that Kemp “didn’t have the power” to regulate businesses after a global emergency. However, the idea that Kemp considered certain workers “inexpensive” could be embraced by Georgia voters who are inclined to oppose Kemp.
Kemp was not hit by Abrams. She resorted to the same old advocacy slogans that have hampered Democrats all across the country, repeatedly. She attacked Kemp for refusing to create a spoils program for black contractors and decried his colorblind approach in addressing racial disparities. He was also accused of failing to provide a plan to close the “gap between minority-owned businesses, majority-owned businesses” within Georgia.
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She stated that “we need a governor who believes in equity–racial equality, economic equity—-in the state Georgia.”
According to polls, Kemp leads Abrams by 5.5 percentage points after he beat Trump in the primary. Kemp, who was consistently ahead of Republican Herschel Walker’s challenge to Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in the Republican primary race, was able cite a solid record for conservative governance during his debate with Abrams.
It’s difficult to imagine anything other than a Republican incumbent winning, given that Georgia is the only alternative.