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Abrams Holds Out Hope as Kemp Declares Victory in Ga. Governor’s Race

  • Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp gives a thumbs-up to supporters, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters about a suspected run-off during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Atlanta. Abrams, the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States, faced Republican challenger Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • This combination of May 20, 2018, photos shows Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp in Atlanta. Democrats and Republicans nationwide will have to wait a bit longer to see if Georgia elects the first black woman governor in American history or doubles down on the Deep South’s GOP tendencies with an acolyte of President Donald Trump (AP Photos/John Amis, File)

  • Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, right, waits backstage with her family and friends before speaking to a crowd of supporters during her election night watch party at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Georgia's hotly contested and potentially historic governor's race may not be over yet, with Democrat Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp awaiting the final accounting of absentee and provisional ballots. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp arrives to an election-night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Supporters of Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams cheer as they get word of results during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Atlanta. Abrams, the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States, faces Republican challenger Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. (AP Photo/John Amis)

  • Supporters of Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp react Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Athens, Ga. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp speaks to reporters after voting Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Winterville, Ga. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Supporters of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams react as she exits her vehicle at the Deshon Plaza Shopping Center in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Alyssa Pointer /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Mike Young reacts during an election night watch party for Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Athens, Ga. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp gives the thumbs up sign as he and youngest daughter Amy Porter leave after voting Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Winterville, Ga. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, right, escorts Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams through a crowd of supporters during a campaign stop at the Deshon Plaza Shopping Center in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Alyssa Pointer /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Activist Jo Handy reacts to drivers as she shows her support for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams at the Deshon Plaza Shopping Center in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Alyssa Pointer /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp poses for a photo with his family after voting Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Winterville, Ga. Kemp is in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Supporters of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams listen as she speaks at Annie D's restaurant on Election Day in Buena Vista, Ga., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Atlanta. Abrams spoke about expecting a runoff with Republican opponent Brian Kemp. (AP Photo/John Amis)



Associated Press
Thursday, November 08, 2018

Atlanta — Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign declared victory on Wednesday in the Georgia governor’s race, though Democrat Stacey Abrams insists that enough ballots remain to leave open the possibility of a runoff in a race that Kemp oversees as secretary of state.

The Associated Press has not called the contest.

Ryan Mahoney, a top Kemp campaign adviser, told reporters in a conference call that the numbers show Abrams can’t win and a runoff won’t happen — but stopped short of declaring victory until pressed by an Associated Press reporter. Only then did Mahoney say Kemp is certain of victory and is preparing to take office in January.

“We are declaring victory,” Mahoney said. Another campaign official, Austin Chambers, added: “The message here is pretty simple: This election is over, and the results are clear.”

Kemp was not on the call.

The move comes after a tense standoff that leaves open the possibility of litigation as Abrams’ campaign has spent the day pushing for the continued counting of absentee, mail-in and provisional ballots and renewing its concerns that Kemp remains the chief elections officer supervising his own election, a race already marked by disputes over the voting process.

With reported votes exceeding 3.9 million — almost 95 percent of Georgia’s 2016 presidential turnout — Kemp has just more than 50 percent.

“We are leaving all of our options on the table,” including litigation, Abrams’ campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said. She estimated on Wednesday that about 15,000 votes separate Kemp from a runoff. She says at least that many outstanding absentee and mail-in ballots remained to be counted.

If a runoff is necessary, the second round would take place on Dec. 4.