In a fiery victory speech, Kemp knocks Abrams – and Trump

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Gov. Brian Kemp got the victory lap he was denied four years ago with a convincing win over Stacey Abrams. And he used it to thank his supporters and slam two of his greatest antagonists.

The first was Abrams, whose refusal to concede her narrow 2018 defeat shadowed his first term as governor. This time, she called to congratulate him even before the networks projected his victory.

But the rivalry between the two runs deep, and Kemp invoked a favorite campaign trail mantra to a crowd of cheering supporters at the Coca-Cola Roxy theater.

“Looking at the results tonight, we made sure that Stacey Abrams is not going to be our governor – or our next president,” he said.

The second dig was more subtle. Throughout the campaign, Kemp had avoided punching back at Donald Trump every time he swung at him, even after the former president tried to oust him from office.

But with victory in hand, Kemp had no qualms to invoke presidents “both current and former” who panned his decision to lift economic restrictions early in the pandemic. Trump was one of the loudest critics of that April 2020 decision.

“I didn’t listen to the pundits, the so-called experts, the media or the presidents,” he said a second time. “I listened to you – the hardworking people of this great state, because that’s what I was elected to do.”