Kemp, Abrams debate day 1 of early voting in Georgia

ATLANTA – Early in-person voting begins Monday in Georgia, hours before candidates for governor meet in the first of two scheduled debates. Democrats in particular are trying to get their supporters to vote early in races that contain a crucial seat in the US Senate.

Republican incumbent Brian Kempwho has touted his record of reopening Georgia’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and attacking the democratic challenger Stacey Abrams as soft on crime, put out a series of proposals on crime on Monday, signaling that this could be a main topic of debate.

Kemp proposes increasing the prison sentence for recruiting youth under 18 into a gang from the current five years to at least 10 years. He also proposes making it more difficult for judges to release people arrested without cash bail, saying judges should consider a person’s criminal record and prohibit release without bail for people who have not appeared in court in the past.

Both proposals, which would need state legislature approval before they go into effect, are likely to draw attacks from advocates locking fewer people in Georgia jails. Kemp and other Republicans have repeatedly blundered efforts over the past four years to make Georgia’s criminal justice system less criminal, though they said they honor the reform legacy of former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

Kemp also wants to provide credit waivers of up to $20,000 for people studying to become police officers in the state and up to $100,000 for people who become coroners.

Abrams trailing Kemp in polls as the two match back-to-back Abrams’ narrow defeat in 2018said she wanted to use Monday’s debate to highlight her plans to expand Medicaid, increase childcare subsidies, raise teachers’ salaries, make housing more affordable and expand small business opportunities.

“I’ll be speaking to everyone about what’s at stake, the possibilities, and why we haven’t received all the benefits that Georgia is entitled to,” she said. “I want to make sure I stand up to the fact that Brian Kemp doesn’t care, that he won’t help and that he has spent the last four years attacking our freedoms.”

Kemp campaign spokesman Cody Hall said Kemp’s goal in the debate is “to communicate the governor’s record, but also to make clear how that record contrasts with where Stacey Abrams wants to take our state.” .

Libertarian Shane Hazel will share the stage.

Which will probably be the only one Debate in the Georgia Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker took place in Savannah last Friday. That followed a debate between Warnock and libertarian challenger Chase Oliver on Sunday in Atlanta.

More than 4 million people could vote in the state elections this year, and if past patterns hold, more than half are likely to vote before Election Day. With Donald Trump’s previous baseless attacks on mail-in voting As prone to fraud, early voting could benefit Democrats. Abrams told reporters Thursday she hopes to get 100,000 to 200,000 voters to the polls in the first week.

“Everyone you’ve ever met should know about this: people you’re mad at, people mad at you, people you owe money, people who owe you money, people you broke up with You’ve got a good time to get back together,” Abrams said Friday during a fundraiser in Atlanta attended by First Lady Jill Biden. “But we need everyone across the state to show up for the first week of early voting.”

Voters in Georgia are already sending ballots in the mail, with more than 1,000 in the mail as of Friday. More than 200,000 people have already applied for absentee ballots, with an October 28 deadline to request them. Early in-person voting will take place through Nov. 4, with counties mandated to offer two voting Saturdays and the option to offer two Sundays.

Hall said Kemp’s goal is to remain “competitive” on early voting. “We’re confident that we can do that,” Hall said.

Kemp and Abrams are scheduled to meet for a second debate on October 30.


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Sarah Y. Kim

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