Stacey Abrams Squares Off with GOP Opponent in First Georgia Gubernatorial Debate
Voter suppression took center stage Tuesday night as Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp faced off in their first debate in Georgia’s razor-tight gubernatorial race. Libertarian candidate Ted Metz also participated. Kemp defended himself against allegations of voter suppression, saying he is “absolutely not” using his position to suppress African American voters. He called the idea that he is doing so a “farce” meant to be a “distraction” from Abram’s “extreme agenda.” However, Rolling Stone's Jamil Smith reported earlier in the day that Kemp was caught on tape specifically mentioning the importance of keeping voter turnout low for his campaign to be successful. He even said his campaign feared “the literally tens of millions of dollars that [Abrams' campaign] are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base." Kemp, who has already acted to purge 53,000 voters -- 70% of which were Black residents -- is actively seeking to suppress thousands more. American Public Media reported last week that Kemp purged an estimated 107,000 voters last year simply because they didn’t vote in the prior election. He is also being sued for leaving more than 6 million Georgia voting records open to hacking. Immigration was another hot topic. Kemp doubled down on his belief that DACA students should not be allowed to receive in-state tuition for the state's colleges, saying such immigrants do not count as “our own people." He also accused Abrams of encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote. Abrams said she has “never in my life asked for anyone who is not legally eligible to vote” she replied. “What I’ve asked for is that you allow those that are legally eligible to vote, to allow them to cast their ballots.” The pair also sparred over Medicaid, with Abrams saying it’s a "bipartisan" program offering Georgia's "only" health-care solution, while Kemp called her proposal "a single-payer radical government takeover of healthcare." Kemp throughout the debate made an issue of Abrams' taxes, accusing her of failing to pay them even though she is a tax attorney. Abrams explained that she had to defer paying her taxes when she was paying for her father's cancer treatment. "You can defer taxes but you can't defer cancer treatment," she told Kemp. The Georgia NAACP filed complaints Tuesday with state election officials alleging that some voting machines mistakenly showed votes cast for Abrams registering for Kemp. See full debate here.