Incumbency prevailed in Georgia’s 2022 gubernatorial race, with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp emerging victorious, securing his second term in the governor’s mansion. In Georgia’s Senate race, incumbent Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican hopeful Herschel Walker are projected to advance to a runoff.

“It looks like the reports of my political death have been greatly exaggerated,” Kemp said in his victory speech on election night. “It is a great night to be a Georgian.”

Jainee Shah/Contributing Illustrator

Kemp outperformed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams by 7.6 percentage points, with Kemp garnering 2,104,084 votes (53.4%) and Abrams winning 1,805,610 votes (45.8%), as of Nov. 9 at 4:00 a.m. Abrams conceded to Kemp Tuesday evening. 

“I am doing what is clearly the responsible thing — I am suspending my campaign for governor,” Abrams said in a speech on Tuesday evening. “I may no longer be seeking the office of governor, but I will never stop doing everything in my power to ensure that the people of Georgia have a voice.”

According to various polls, Abrams’ weaker performance this election cycle may be due to a decrease in support among Black male voters and a general lack of excitement surrounding the midterm elections among Black voters. 

Emory College Republicans Chairman Robert Schmad (23C) wrote in an email to the Wheel that he was not surprised Kemp pulled off a comfortable win.

“Governor Brian Kemp ran on a policy record of putting the interests of Georgians first, Stacey Abrams ran on a bourgeois progressive culture war,” Schmad wrote. “We look forward to Governor Kemp continuing to protect life and prosperity in the state of Georgia for the next four years.”

Young Democrats of Emory President Ash Shankar (23B) did not respond for comment by press time.

Other key Georgia races resulted in favorable outcomes for Republicans. Georgia State Rep. and Democratic Secretary of State candidate Bee Nguyen conceded to Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger Tuesday evening. 

“The past years haven’t been easy in Georgia — I’m grateful to be in [a] race where we can have a phone call & wish each other well,” Nguyen tweeted. “Thank you to the voters in the state of Georgia. You inspire me.”

Raffensperger outperformed Nguyen by 9.2 percentage points as of Nov. 9 at 4:00 a.m., with Raffensperger winning 53.2% of votes and Nguyen receiving 44.0% of votes.    

Additionally, Rep. Nikema Williams (D-5) was reelected to represent Georgia’s fifth congressional district, where Emory University is located. She leads Christian Zimm (15Ox, 17C, 20B, 20L), her Republican opponent, by 64.9 percentage points as of Nov. 9 at 4:00 a.m.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (left and right) and Office of the Governor (middle)

Kemp and Abrams previously faced off in the 2018 gubernatorial election, when Kemp won his first term as governor by just 1.4 percentage points. Abrams subsequently refused to concede, flagging alleged voter suppression. Abrams then established Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit dedicated to combating voter suppression in Georgia and across the United States.

Abrams’ key campaign points included expanding Medicaid, investing in education and providing free technical college through need-based financial aid. She is also a proponent of LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom and strengthening gun safety laws. 

In contrast, Kemp signed the historic heartbeat bill, which bans most abortions in Georgia after six weeks, and approved legislation allowing permitless carry of a concealed handgun in public. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he passed the Unmask Georgia Act in March, which prohibited public schools from requiring masks. Kemp also implemented a $5,000 teacher pay raise, the largest in Georgia’s history. 

Georgia’s economy expanded during Kemp’s tenure. During fiscal year 2021, investments grew by 46% and job creation increased 5% above previous Georgia economic development records.

Warnock outpaced Walker by 0.5 percentage points, with Warnock receiving 1,941,020 (49.2%) votes while Walker accumulated 1,922,977 (48.7%) votes, as of Nov. 9 at 4:00 a.m. However, neither candidate has received over 50% of the vote, so the race will likely advance to a runoff on Dec. 6.  

Several controversies defined Walker’s campaign, including urging and offering to pay for his ex-girlfriend to get two abortions, spurning his children and faking a law enforcement background. Walker — who proudly claimed he does not know how to spell “politician” — has also been endorsed by numerous controversial figures, including Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and former U.S. President Donald Trump.

Despite political scientists previously forecasting a red wave nationwide, many Democratic candidates have fended off their Republican opponents. (Chau Anh Nguyen/Contributing Illustrator)

Walker is most known for his football career, where he played on the University of Georgia’s 1980 championship team, as well as for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Although he does not have a formal background in politics, Trump appointed Walker chairman of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. 

On the campaign trail, Walker has advocated for lowering taxes, increasing security on the United States and Mexico border, bolstering military spending and advancing pro-life policies.  

When Warnock was sworn into office less than two years ago, he made history as the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia and the first Democratic Black senator from the South. He was also the first Democratic Senator elected in Georgia in 20 years. Like Walker, Warnock does not come from a political background — he is the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.  

Warnock was elected in a special election to decide who would complete the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) term after he resigned from office in December 2019 due to health concerns. Kemp appointed former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) to fill the seat until the special election was held. The special election advanced to a runoff between Loeffler and Warnock, with his and Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) eventual victories flipping the Senate blue.

While in office, Warnock co-sponsored the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which aimed to facilitate the United States’ transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by offering tax credits for solar energy production. His campaign also emphasized many bread-and-butter Democratic initiatives, like expanding Medicaid, advancing women’s reproductive rights and protecting the Affordable Care Act and the Equality Act.