Georgia 2018: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues

Georgia voters are set to elect a new governor in 2018. 

Stacey Abrams --  the former House minority leader -- won the Democratic nomination. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp will face off in a July runoff for the GOP nomination. 

Learn about how the candidates plan to take on the major issues facing the state. 

Taxes  |  Medicaid expansion  |  Education/HOPE  |   Gun laws  |   Criminal justice/drug policy  |   Immigration  |  Religious Liberty  |  Abortion  |  Medical Marijuana  |  Transportation  |  Water wars



Casey Cagle: Would cut taxes by $100 million in the first 100 days of his administration and seek further tax cuts. 

Brian Kemp: Plans to put a cap on state spending, adjusted for growth and inflation and eliminate “wasteful” tax incentives. 



Stacey Abrams: Wants to reverse the state tax rate cut enacted in this year’s legislative session in order to expand Medicaid. Backs tax credit for lower-income families. 



Cagle: Says he is open to pursuing a waiver from the federal government in order to gain more money for Medicaid, so long as it includes a work requirement. 

Kemp: Opposes expansion 



Abrams: supports expanding Medicaid 



Cagle: Pushed for and continues to promote the College and Career Academy Network, a program of 46 schools that combines college courses with tech school training. 

Kemp: Would support “school choice” effort by doubling the state tax credit for student scholarship organizations and boost funding for charter schools. 



Abrams: Supports “historic investment” in early childcare and learning and public schools and a needs-based higher education scholarship. Says she staved off deeper cuts to lottery-funded HOPE scholarship by working with Republicans to keep the program solvent. 

Gun laws


Casey Cagle: Opposes new gun restrictions and said he supports “constitutional carry” - the right to legally carry a weapon openly or concealed without a permit - after initially objecting to it. Won NRA’s endorsement after vowing to “kill” a tax break for Delta when it broke ties with pro-gun group. 

Brian Kemp: Opposes new gun restrictions and backs “constitutional carry.” Ran provocative ad showing him brandishing shotgun next to young man courting his daughter. Won support from GeorgiaCarry.Org, a pro-gun group. 



Stacey Abrams: Supports stricter gun laws, including universal background checks for private sales of firearms and a repeal of the “campus carry” legislation that allows permitholders to carry weapons on college campuses. 

Criminal Justice/drug policy


Cagle: Backed commission to study expanding state’s medical marijuana program, supported Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice overhaul 

Kemp: Supports bolstering state’s anti-gang initiative, opposes in-state cultivation of medical marijuana 


Abrams: Pledges to eliminate the use of cash bail for some poor defendants, backs taking steps to decriminalize marijuana, expanding accountability courts and ending capital punishment. 



Cagle: Backed an unsuccessful measure in the state Legislature this year that would have required state judges and local sheriff's deputies to help with federal immigration enforcement. He also filed a complaint against Decatur over the city’s enforcement of immigration law. 

Kemp: Has proposed creating a database for tracking unauthorized immigrants with criminal convictions and for speeding up their deportations. 



Abrams: Opposed Georgia House Bill 87, a crackdown on illegal immigration that lawmakers approved in 2011, saying it has “harmed our immigrant and refugee communities.” 

Religious Liberty


Cagle: Pledged to sign “religious liberty” measure 

Kemp: Pledged to sign “religious liberty” measure 



Abrams: opposed bills that threatened to legalize discrimination or allow some Georgians to be treated differently under the law. 



Cagle: Says he will “defend life at all stages,” hasn’t specified new abortion restrictions he would back. 

Kemp: Has pledged to enact nation’s toughest abortion restrictions. 


Abrams: Opposes further abortion restrictions 

Medical Marijuana


Casey Cagle: He supports a limited expansion of the medical marijuana program but opposes legislation allowing marijuana to be grown in the state, saying it should be up to Congress to tackle the debate. He also opposes decriminalizing marijuana. 

 Brian Kemp: He supports a limited expansion of the medical marijuana program but opposes legislation allowing marijuana to be grown in the state, saying it should be up to Congress to tackle the debate. He also opposes decriminalizing marijuana. 


Stacey Abrams: She supports in-state cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. She would seek to decriminalize some marijuana offenses, and invoked a new Atlanta policy that calls for a maximum fine of $75 and no mandatory jail time for small amounts. 



Casey Cagle: He said Georgia needs more “bold steps” like the General Assembly’s 2015 decision to raise nearly $1 billion a year for road and bridge construction. Among the projects Cagle said he’d consider are a highway tunnel under Atlanta to ease traffic on the Downtown Connector and elevated highways designed to minimize the need to buy expensive right of way. 

Brian Kemp: He’s been skeptical of a state-funded transit expansion, saying he first wants to know “what it’s going to cost and who’s going to pay for it.” As part of his plan to cap state spending, he said he wants to prioritize road projects such as the widening of truck routes to accommodate more freight. 



Stacey Abrams: She’s supportive of efforts to expand transit and says it should be seen as a regional and economic issue. She’s called for more investments in trucking lanes and increased mobility for residents in rural counties. 

Water wars


Casey Cagle: Says he will “protect our water supply at every cost” and that the state’s economic future is at stake. 

Brian Kemp: Says he won’t strike a compromise for the sake of ending the waters wars that will leave “hardworking Georgians high and dry” and is ready to step up the legal fight. “I won’t back down, blink or sacrifice our state’s future on the altar of expediency.” 



Stacey Abrams: She’s framed herself as a sharp-edged negotiator who will work to preserve the state’s water interests.

Complete Georgia elections coverage

Read in-depth profiles about the candidates

Voting guide for Georgia primary election

TV tally: Georgia gov candidates spend more than $12M on campaign ads

A week before the vote, the knives sharpen in Georgia gov race

Georgia elections central

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Homepage