The Georgia Governor’s race has a lot on the line considering the fact that incumbent Governor Brian Kemp and his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams have been at the center of the Peach State’s political universe for the past four years.

In 2018, there was an awkward handshake as both individuals feebly attempted to shake hands. Tonight, it appeared there were not any gaffes of any sort. Heading into tonight’s debate, Governor Kemp leads Abrams by five points according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.

Abrams says polls are a snapshot.

“The question is who are they taking a picture of when I’m going across the state? The people I’m talking to are excited about this election, but they also know that they’re often left out of the conversation,” Abrams said.

During the debate, Kemp responded to rumors claiming he would ban contraception in light of the heartbeat bill passing in the Georgia Legislature.

“No, that’s not my desire to do that,” Kemp said. “My desire is to continue to help Georgians fight 40 year high inflation and high gas prices and other things that our Georgia families are facing right now quite honestly because of bad policies in Washington DC for President Biden the Democrats that have complete control.”

Monday morning, the early voting period began statewide in Georgia. According to Gabriel Sterling, an official affiliated with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, he says more than 125,000 people have voted on day one of the early voting period. That is more than the previous record of 72k from the 2018 midterm 1st day of early voting. 

During the debate, Abrams said she will defend the right to vote for all Georgia’s citizens.

“As governor I intend to stand up for the right to vote,” Abrams said. “I will always acknowledge the outcome of elections. But I will never deny access to every voter because that is the responsibility of every American to defend the right to vote.”

Meanwhile, Governor Kemp said with Senate Bill 202 it’s easier to vote and harder to cheat. 

“She doesn’t want to talk about her own record in 2018 in government because we had the largest African-American turnout in the country,” Kemp said. “She said that Senate Bill 202, the Election Integrity Act, which we passed two years ago would be Jim Crow 2.0. This past May in our primaries, we again had record turnout in the Republican primary and the Democratic primary in Georgia.”

Throughout the campaign, Governor Kemp has painted Abrams as an Atlanta liberal that has dominated the headlines, social media, and celebrity circles for the past four years while being soft on crime. Meanwhile, Abrams fired back. 

“Mr. Kemp, I do not make it my plan to list every person who supports me,” Abrams said. “I have the support of those who want to be treated fairly in our system. I have had conversations with the entirety of Georgia. I don’t have the luxury of being a part of a good old boys club, where we don’t focus on the needs of our people. And that is why my mission has been to put out a very concrete plan explaining how I will serve justice, how I will serve safety and how I will serve the citizens of the state of Georgia.”

On education, Governor Kemp touted the $5,000 teacher pay raise that was completed in his first full term, however, he says he’s got more work to do. Abrams characterized Kemp’s plan as “a raise on layaway.”

Throughout the campaign, Abrams has said she would use the state’s $6.6 billion surplus to fund her education initiatives, including a pay raise of $11,000 to Georgia’s teachers.

“And that is why under this governor we have a 67% retention rate; any other CEO who lost more than 30% of their workforce would be fired,” Abrams said. “And that is what my plan is to use the resources we have today to plan for today and tomorrow. We’ve got the money and we have economists in Georgia who have looked at my plan and they say it works.”

According to the Education Fund Initiative, Georgia is 43rd in public school funding per student in K-12. Kemp took the opportunity to promise another increase in teacher pay during the debate.

“If Stacey Abrams had been your governor over the last four years, you wouldn’t have that excess revenue,” Kemp said. “If she wanted to stay locked down and criticize me. when I wanted to open it back up.”

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

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...