In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Georgia’s gubernatorial race was still too close to call: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp was just shy of 51 percent as reported votes approached 3.8 million, according to the Associated Press. But Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s vying to become the country’s first black female governor, refused to concede.
And while Kemp has a narrow lead, it may not be enough in Georgia: The state requires a runoff if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the general election.
If no absolute majority is reached, Abrams and Kemp would meet again on Dec. 4 — in a rematch of a bitter contest marked by allegations of racism and voter suppression. It would be the first general election race for governor to require a runoff, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
The Abrams campaign said there were too many outstanding ballots to certify a result. Abrams, addressing supporters early Wednesday morning, pointed in particular to absentee and provisional ballots that had yet to be counted as she refused to concede.
When Kemp addressed supporters, he said, “Math is on our side.”
As Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal Constitution observed, runoffs in Georgia have tended to favor Republicans. After former senator Saxby Chambliss came just shy of a majority against Democrat Jim Martin in 2008, the Republican incumbent beat him handily in a runoff. Further back, Republican Paul Coverdell unseated Wyche Fowler, a Democratic senator, in a 1992 runoff.
But Abrams was already sharpening her pitch on Wednesday morning for a future faceoff, addressing voters who may not have supported her the first time around.
“You’re going to have a chance to do a do-over,” she said.
A runoff could further complicate Kemp’s role as a candidate in an election that he is charged with overseeing as Georgia’s secretary of state. He faced blowback when his office announced over the weekend that it had opened a probe into the state Democratic Party for an alleged “hacking” attempt. It provided no evidence to accompany this announcement.