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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. Secretary of State Brian Kemp win the Republican 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  |  Rural issues    

Budget and Taxes

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Republican

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

In Depth:  State spending could be biggest difference in Georgia governor’s race

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Backtracked on an earlier position that she would reverse a state income tax cut.  Supports tax credit for lower-income families, expanding Medicaid and new scholarships and tax credits to make child care more affordable. 

In Depth: Abrams shifts, says she would now let Georgia’s income tax cut stand

Medicaid

Republican

Kemp: Opposes expanding Medicaid but supports increasing rural hospital tax credit program and seeking federal waivers to help stabilize insurance premiums. 

In Depth: Kemp’s health care policy opposes Medicaid expansion, supports waivers

Democrat

Abrams: Supports expanding Medicaid and exploring a program to stabilize health insurance premiums. 

In Depth: Medicaid expansion question fuels Georgia governor’s race

In Depth: Abrams’ health care plan centers on Medicaid expansion for poor

Education/HOPE

Republican 

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

In Depth: Kemp proposes a $600 million annual plan to boost teacher pay

In Depth: Kemp unveils school-safety plan

Democrat

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. 

In Depth: Georgia gubernatorial candidates stake out education plans 

In Depth: Abrams has an expansive (and expensive?) education plan

Gun laws

Republican

Brian Kemp: Opposes new gun restrictions and backs “constitutional carry,” which would let gun owners conceal and carry handguns without a permit. He proposed a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition. Kemp also wants to end some “gun-free” zones. Ran provocative ad showing him brandishing shotgun next to young man courting his daughter. Won support from GeorgiaCarry.Org, a pro-gun group. 

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

Democrat

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 permit holders to carry weapons on college campuses. 

In Depth: In Georgia, Democrats chart new course on gun control 

Criminal Justice/drug policy

Republican

Kemp: Calls gang violence a public safety “crisis” and plans to create a new unit in the state attorney general’s office devoted to fighting the crime. Opposes in-state cultivation of medical marijuana 

In Depth: Kemp ratchets up focus on gang ‘crisis’ in governor’s race

Democrat

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. 

In Depth: Criminal justice reveals wide split in Georgia governor’s race

Immigration

Republican 

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

Democrat

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.” 

In Depth: Abrams was asked if ‘Dreamers’ should get the HOPE scholarship. Here’s what she said:

Religious Liberty

Republican

Kemp: Pledged to sign “religious liberty” measure during the primary campaign. After winning the nomination he said that said he would veto any measure that veers from the federal version, known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, that became law in 1993. 

In Depth: Kemp: I will veto any legislation that veers from federal ‘religious liberty’ law 

Democrat

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

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

Abortion

Republican

Kemp: Has pledged to enact nation’s toughest abortion restrictions. He adopted that position hours after Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

Democrat

Abrams: Opposes further abortion restrictions. Planned Parenthood endorsed her during the primary campaign. 

Medical Marijuana

Republican

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. 

Democrat 

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. 

Transportation

Republican

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. 

In Depth: Candidates for governor eye Georgia’s transportation needs

Democrat

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

Republican

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.” 

Democrat

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

Rural issues

Republican

Brian Kemp: Pledges to bring jobs to rural communities by increasing access to high-speed internet in order to attract jobs to those areas. To improve rural health care, he wants to expand tax credits, stabilize insurance markets and increase access to doctors. However, he opposes Medicaid expansion.

In Depth: Georgia’s rural woes a big problem awaiting next governor

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Wants to boost rural economies by prioritizing health care. If elected, she vows to expand Medicaid to protect rural hospitals, increase access to telemedicine and support health care workers that want to practice medicine in rural counties. She also supports expanding internet access to help business owners and students in rural regions.

Complete Georgia elections coverage

Inside the Georgia governor election 2018: Latest polls and predictions

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Breaking down the ads of the race for governor

Read in-depth profiles about the candidates

Georgia elections central

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