Did Brian Kemp Deploy a Dog Whistle During His Debate Against Stacey Abrams?

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Plus other takeaways from their matchup.

Monday was a busy day in Georgia politics.

In the morning, Georgians could begin early voting.

In the evening, Georgia could see their options for governor—Republican incumbent Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams—participate in their first televised debate since they both ran for the Georgia governor’s mansion in the contentious 2018 gubernatorial election.

The rematch race has been heralded as one of the nation’s most important gubernatorial contests, but it’s generally tough to oust an incumbent who lowered taxes, like Kemp has. According to polls averaged by FiveThirtyEight, Kemp is ahead of Abrams by more than five points.

But during the hour-long match-up, Abrams argued that Kemp hurt Georgians in other ways, such as by opting against accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid and by supporting laws that reduced voter access and reproductive freedom. “The most dangerous thing facing Georgians,” she said, “is four more years of Brian Kemp.”

In turn, Kemp said he delivered for Georgia by keeping businesses and schools open during the pandemic and building up a budget surplus of more than $6 billion. “If Stacey Abrams had been your governor over the last four years, you would not have that revenue,” Kemp said. “She wanted to stay locked down.”

Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel unintentionally made the case that third-party candidates polling in the low single digits probably shouldn’t be invited to participate in such debates in the first place, as Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Tia Mitchell smartly noted. For starters, he falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines killed a bunch of people.

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