ATLANTA (AP) – Republican Brian Kemp resigned as Georgian Secretary of State on Thursday. One day after his campaign, he said he had collected enough votes to become governor, even though his rival had refused.
Stacey Abrams' campaign immediately responded with a refusal to accept Kemp's win-win statement and demand that state officials "count every single vote".
As the state's top election official, Kemp led the race, a festival that took place right in the middle of the nation. He resigned on Thursday morning when an indictment hearing began, in which five voters requested that he be excluded from his duties in the future administration of his own electoral campaign.
Abrams' campaign repeatedly accused Kemp of abusing his post as Secretary of State, he had resigned for months, saying his continuation of the job was a conflict of interest. Kemp made it clear, however, that he had not resigned in response to this criticism, but had begun his transition to the post of governor.
His resignation came into effect shortly before noon on Thursday. He said an interim foreign minister had been appointed to oversee the rest of the vote count.
The Associated Press did not call the election.
Shortly after Kemp's announcement, Abrams & Campaign's legal team held a press conference to announce that they would continue to fight for all votes to be counted. Her lawyers insisted that there were not enough votes to influence the outcome of the elections.
The lawyers said they had planned to file a lawsuit against Dougherty County officials on Thursday, saying that the postal vote was delayed because of Hurricane Michael, who was ravaging parts of South Georgia.
They also said that they ask the court to ensure that these votes are counted, and to demand that election officials retain all potential evidence regarding vote counting.
"How can anyone achieve victory if there are enough votes that have not been counted that could lead to a sting here?" Attorney John Chandler asked. "We will take action until we find that the votes of all persons have been counted."
Previously, Abrams had pointed to ballots that had not been counted in the metropolises of Atlanta, where they won a large share of votes. Her campaign said she would have to get about 15,000 votes to secure a run-off vote in December.
Kemp said Abrams uses "old math." Without giving any specifics, he said in a WSB radio interview that the number is "actually more than 30,000 votes".
At a press conference with Republican Governor Nathan Deal late Thursday morning, Kemp said there were only about 20,000 provisional ballots that had not been counted in the race. He offered no details, but on a question he wanted to say he would ask for the publication of County-by-County results.
From Abrams, he said, "Even if she has received 100 percent of those votes, we still win."
Indeed, Kemp's office has released a county-level collapse at about the same time as Thursday's deal in Deals spoke. The office had not shared the requested information the day before, although Kemp's campaign declared the nationwide estimate a justification for victory.
The dispute continued to attract attention throughout the country with the head of the democratic nation-state committee applauds Abrams for having pushed Kemp as unreliable and blasted.
"It's grossly unfair for any fox in America to compare Brian Kemp to a fox guarding the chicken coop, and it's much worse in Georgia," said DNC chairman Tom Perez in Washington. "I do not think the race is over, every vote has to be counted, and the integrity of these elections is at stake."
Late Wednesday afternoon – after a day of campaigns, news agencies and partisan observers looking for information on outstanding votes in the 159 counties of Georgia – Kemp Adjutant Ryan Mahoney told reporters in a teleconference: "We declare victory." The campaign's official representative, Austin Chambers, added, "The message here is pretty simple: this election is over and the results are clear."
If a runoff is required, it will take place on December 4, reinforcing Abram's bid. The first black woman was elected Governor in American history, while Kemp wants to maintain the dominance of the GOP in a state where the Democrats have not won a governors' race since 1998.
Partisan observers have searched the country for clues as to how much a battlefield Georgia can take part in the 2020 presidential campaign.
With a reported vote of over 3.9 million – nearly 95 percent of the Georgian presidential election in 2016 – Kemp has just over 50 percent.
In 2016, there were 16,739 provisional ballots with a slightly larger constituency. Of these, 7,592 were counted. State and campaign officials said that a much higher proportion would be expected this year.
The lawsuit filed Thursday morning in a federal court in Atlanta came from voters who sued Kemp on election day, claiming he wanted an election in which he voted is a candidate "violates a fundamental notion of fairness." The plaintiffs called on the court to prevent Kemp from engaging more in the administration of his election. The hearing ended shortly after the announcement of the resignation of Kemp.
It is not immediately clear what practical role Kemp played in the election campaign. Local officials are responsible for counting votes, including preliminary ballots. County officials have time to confirm their results and send them to Kemp's office by next Tuesday. Nationwide certification must be completed by 20 November.
Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP[19659027/apnews/APPolitics