The clash over ballot access in the Georgia race for governor intensified on Monday as Republican Brian Kemp went on national TV to claim that his Democratic opponent wants “illegals to vote.”
Stacey Abrams responded in campaign stops across middle Georgia by accusing him of “cherry-picking information” to willfully mislead the public three weeks before the election.
The fight comes as Kemp faces scrutiny for his handling of more than 50,000 “pending” voter registration applications, and it revolves around comments Abrams made last week about the “blue wave” of Democratic energy.
At an event with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Abrams said those tidal forces will invigorate a range of Georgians, including “the documented and undocumented.”
(You can listen to her entire comments here with this audio provided by Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting and judge for yourself.)
Kemp quickly seized on those remarks, and in an interview with Fox News Monday morning was blunt when asked what that means for Georgians.
“It means she wants illegals to vote in Georgia. This is a shocking development in the campaign,” said Kemp.
He then invoked a lawsuit filed by voting rights groups that seeks to count some provisional ballots flagged by elections officials as a potential non-citizen.
“Early voting in Georgia starts today,” he said. “Hardworking Georgians should decide who their governor is. Not people here illegally, like my opponent wants.”
Abrams’ supporters cast Kemp as desperate to shift the conversation from uproar over his office’s use of a controversial “exact-match” voting law.
And at a campaign stop in Macon, she called on him to “stop spreading this very, very wrong rhetoric.”
“What I said was we are a state that is on the cusp of a blue wave. And that blue wave will effect a lot of communities. Including the Dreamers who go to our colleges and go to our high schools who are helping to create a stronger economy, those workers in the fields right now who are working in our fields right now helping to pick the last of the crops devastated by Hurricane Michael.
“I find it very disappointing that he would willfully mislead the public and misstate what I’ve said. I’ve never once argued for anyone who was not legally allowed to vote in the state of Georgia to be allowed to vote. What I’ve asked for is that he allow those who are legally allowed to vote to actually cast a ballot.”
Abrams was then asked whether she stands by her comments.
“What I said that day is this is a state that should be looking out for everyone in our state,” she said, “and I would hope that anyone running for governor should believe in all of Georgia.”