Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams is out with a new TV ad, claiming that GOP rival Brian Kemp is distorting her record.
The ad began airing Wednesday in metro Atlanta and is paid for by Abrams’ campaign. It follows steady attacks by Kemp against Abrams on restrictions on where sex offenders can live and work and by Abrams against Kemp over state licensing of a law-breaking massage therapist.
It’s also a counterpunch to a GOP ad launched last weekend that says Abrams is on air with “desperate, baseless” attacks against Kemp.
The ad opens with the audience meeting three people identified only as an ex-police officer, a teacher and a mother.
“We’re calling Brian Kemp out … for his false and misleading attacks against Stacey Abrams,” the ex-police officer says.
He says Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the Georgia House, has increased school safety and toughened penalties for sex trafficking.
The three also applaud Abrams' new community safety plan, with the teacher calling it "tough" and the mother declaring it "smart."
The ad also has the mom and teacher commenting on an image that, post-primary, Kemp is trying to shake.
“Brian Kemp pointed a gun at a teenager in his own ad,” the mother states.
The teacher responds: “Who does that?”
Since defeating Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the GOP primary runoff, Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, has attempted to present himself as a moderate and Abrams as an extremist.
The new ad from Abrams closes with the Democrat smiling and saying: “As governor, I will always tell you the truth. Together, we can make Georgia safe and prosperous … for all.”
Abrams' new TV ad references her votes in favor of Senate Bill 149 in 2017, Senate Bill 8 in 2015 and House Bill 200 in 2011.
SB 149 required that any school resource officer has six months from the date of his or her initial assignment to complete a relevant training course.
SB 8 required anyone convicted of human trafficking to register as a sex offender and to pay into a fund to help victims with housing and other needs. HB 200 added tougher penalties for human trafficking.
Pro-Kemp ads have not attacked Abrams on the bills referenced in her new ad. They have gone after her for voting against a bill in 2008. The legislation in question reinstated a range of restrictions on where registered sex offenders could work and live. It barred them from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of a broad range of places where children gather, including schools, churches, community swimming pools and bus stops.
The Republican measure was pushed in 2008 as a public safety necessity to safeguard children. It was designed to answer a 2007 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that struck down even broader restrictions that were hailed as the toughest in the nation. The lead author was David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who is now the House speaker.
The measure faced stiff opposition from some Democrats and civil liberties groups who called it too onerous to implement. The locations of school bus stops, for instance, change from year to year.
Eventually, lawmakers were forced to dramatically scale back the restrictions to cover a smaller fraction of sex offenders after a series of legal challenges.
Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for the Kemp campaign, issued a response to Abrams’ new ad.
"Stacey Abrams voted against legislation to keep sex offenders away from innocent children, voted against legislation to keep sex predators from taking photos of minors, and opposed legislation to crack down on sex trafficking," Mahoney said. "The voting record doesn't lie, but Stacey Abrams does."
Watch the ad
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com