Historically and politically, Georgia has traditionally been a red, Republican, and very conservative state. Even in the past two presidential elections, Georgia, with the exception of the greater Atlanta area, has been very Republican. As election season is now upon us, the time has come for Georgia to elect a new governor, and the road to that seat has just begun. This past Tuesday Democrats and Republicans battled it out for a chance to make it on the ballot in November. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp emerged on top and will face off in a run-off in July to see who will claim the Republican nomination. On the Democratic side, it was the battle of the “Stacey’s”: Stacey Evans, former state legislator, and former minority leader of the Georgia Statehouse, Stacey Abrams.
In a crushing victory, Abrams garnered a whopping 75% of the vote compared to Evans’ 25% with 100% of precincts reporting. Adding to that historic clean sweep, she is the first African American woman to be a major party nominee for governor in United States history. With the July Republican runoff just over the horizon, many will wonder, how does Abrams stack up against the Republican heavy hitters? Well, let’s take a look at each candidate’s campaign promises.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who recently came under fire for his targeted attack against Delta, promises to take a tough and conservative stance on hard-hitting issues like immigration and tax reform. In fact, you may recall Cagle’s most recent campaign commercial where he is pictured walking outside of a jail with police officers discussing those hard-hitting topics like immigration, taxes, and the dismantling of sanctuary cities. According to an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s main priorities as governor would be to continue to work with his College and Career Academy Network that was established in 2007. “I believe education is the main equalizer…I want to give them better choices besides a life of crime…I want every student in Georgia to have access.” Cagle also maintains that he’s running his own race and not focused on any other candidate. He, like his opponents, believes that his experience and record separates him from the other candidates citing that with his help and expertise, “we cut taxes this year [in Georgia] from 6% to 5.5%.”
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose controversial campaign commercial, where he is holding a firearm in his lap, has gone wildly viral, also promises to take a tough and conservative stance on hard-hitting issues and touts himself as being “politically incorrect” as though it is a badge of honor. With this label, one would most likely be instantly reminded of another politician who prided themselves on “speaking their mind without fear of consequence” and that man is now the president of the United States. Brian’s no-nonsense and straight to the point approach translates well to his website where he quickly explains his “4 point plan” if he wins governor. Critiques of Kemp have accused him and the now-viral campaign commercial of being tone deaf considering Georgia’s close proximity to the state of Florida given the state’s recent history with gun tragedies. According to an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, his first priority if he is elected governor is to set up a committee. “…it will be composed of business people not bureaucrats …it’s going to start looking at cutting government regulations and cutting red tape.” He goes on to say that he is the best candidate for the job as he is the only person in the race that’s served in the legislature and been in the private sector for over 30 years and dealt with hard-working Georgians.
The conservative rhetoric that Cagle and Kemp tout are commonly discussed on many a campaign trail in the state of Georgia and those ideals are not met without critique and controversy but historically these are the ideals that fuel many Georgia voters. Standing in stark contrast to her opponents, Stacey Abrams is a much-needed breath of fresh air in the largely white male conservative-dominated political scene in Georgia. Her campaign commercials all show her being friendly, approachable, a person of the people, and able to wield her charm and influence to better Georgia. According to the Red and Black, for education, she focuses on improving it by expanding the HOPE scholarship by including a need-based component called Hope 2.0 and also help those past the traditional age-out time, expansion of mental health support on college campuses, instate universal pre-K for four year olds and free SAT/ACT testing statewide. While her Republican opponents are against the idea of handouts, Abrams wants to institute an earned income tax credit to help people get back on their feet from welfare to a career. She also supports expanding clean energy research and green jobs.
Abrams may not have the same years of experience as her opponents, she certainly embodies the spirit of care, warmth, and progression that this country is pushing for towards a better tomorrow. No matter the outcome of the November election, she can take comfort in knowing that she has already made history in the state of Georgia and the nation and her representation will impact many young people, especially women, for years to come.