The 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia drew national attention when Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams became the first Black woman to be nominated for governor in a majority-party in the United States. A Yale graduate, Abrams faced off against Georgia's then-Secretary of State, Republican Brian Kemp.
As Secretary of State, Kemp controversially oversaw his own election. From 2016, Kemp's office purged over 300 thousand voter registrations, and put an additional 53 thousand voter registration applications on hold—three-fourths of which were filed by minorities. Kemp's office was later found to have violated the law.
Abrams lost the election by only 50 thousand votes, with many—including Abrams herself—believing Kemp used his position as Secretary of State to conduct the election in his favor.
Flash forward two years later, and now-Governor Kemp is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons.
As virus cases in Georgia continue to surge, numerous cities in the state have issued mandatory mask mandates in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Kemp, who sparked outrage when reopening his state as early as April, issued an executive order explicitly forbidding mask mandates in Georgia.
Stacey Abrams—who launched a massive voting rights initiative after her narrow 2018 loss—didn't mince words when criticizing Kemp's virus response. She also recalled his acknowledgment that the virus can spread through asymptomatic carriers—a fact he said he'd just learned months after it became common knowledge.
"From the beginning of this catastrophe, Brian Kemp has demonstrated he has absolutely no competency in this process. This is the same man who didn't understand weeks after the world knew that asymptomatic people could spread the disease...What he continues to do is downplay not only the challenge to Georgians but the deaths of Georgians. More than 300 Georgians have perished, disproportionately Black and Brown Georgians, and he continues to fiddle while Rome burns."
"This is not a man who is capable of leadership, but he is following the lead of the incompetency and the immorality of the President of the United States."
Twitter users concurred with her assessment.
@MSNBC He cares more about politics than people’s lives. It could also be they just want to see everything burn.… https://t.co/uciiivKJOd— Douglas E. Welch (@Douglas E. Welch) 1594867784.0
@MSNBC The GOP’s new brand is anti-science, anti-data. They're against climate science or collecting that data; aga… https://t.co/Lk2NJRBp4i— John McAndrew (@John McAndrew) 1594914037.0
@MSNBC This is beyond upsetting; I'm fuming. They're gambling with people's lives and livelihoods. Back to school u… https://t.co/9BwseYzxCY— Nikki Mirai (@Nikki Mirai) 1594874414.0
@MSNBC Outstanding @staceyabrams! Keep bashing these incompetent men, they deserve it.— BestBet (@BestBet) 1594912320.0
Abrams's competence led many to long for the Governor Georgia could have had.
This is insane, irresponsible. Georgia, you could have had Stacey Abrams. https://t.co/KsAyVOSiaR— Eric Holder (@Eric Holder) 1594911152.0
Brian Kemp was a disaster as a Secretary of State. It is hard to imagine, but he is an even worse Governor. The pe… https://t.co/lqVICEj6rk— Marc E. Elias (@Marc E. Elias) 1594872912.0
Stacey Abrams wouldn't have done this. Kemp did because Trump landed in Atlanta without a mask on. Atlanta had a m… https://t.co/wlr2zeyBta— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@Holly Figueroa O'Reilly) 1594911843.0
@MSNBC @danpfeiffer Imagine how many more people would be alive and thriving in Georgia if .@BrianKempGA, as GA's S… https://t.co/oI7I9q18MH— Karen Rubin (@Karen Rubin) 1594913696.0
Not for nothing, but Stacey Abrams wouldn’t have killed a bunch of Georgians to prove her fealty to Donald Trump. https://t.co/V8gef70q1Z— Jason Karsh (@Jason Karsh) 1594868064.0
Abrams is reportedly under consideration to be on the ticket with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.