Kemp escalates attacks on Abrams’ public safety proposals

Gov. Brian Kemp intensified a campaign to paint his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams as soft on crime with a new effort aimed at drowning out her proposal to hike law enforcement pay.

Kemp followed up an ad blitz highlighting Abrams’ past remarks on the “defund the police” movement with a statement Monday from more than 100 Georgia sheriffs who boasted of the Republican governor’s record and condemned Abrams’ “complete disdain for law enforcement.”

“In these uncertain times, it is critical to our profession that Georgia’s leaders stand firmly behind the men and women in law enforcement who keep Georgia families safe,” read the statement.

“We are grateful to have the support of Governor Kemp and his administration, and we call on Stacey Abrams to disavow the dangerous policies she supports.”

It’s a reference to interviews in which the Democrat indicated support for shifting financial resources away from law enforcement as he tries to frame her as a supporter of “defund the police” movement. Her campaign says the remarks were taken out of context.

The statement escalates a feud between the bitter rivals over public safety initiatives. Abrams this month released a criminal justice platform that promoted reforms she pushed in 2018. And last week she issued plans for a salary hike of more than $10,000 for some officers and a revamp of police training.

That rollout was met with criticism from both sides of the partisan divide, with some liberal figures saying the Democrat’s proposal betrayed efforts for a more comprehensive overhaul of policing. Republicans framed it as an election-year gimmick.

Kemp’s campaign, meanwhile, inundated Georgia conservatives with ads and targeted messaging recycling her remarks and attacking her role on the board of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, which has given grants to organizations that have promoted the defund the police movement.

The Democrat’s campaign dismissed efforts to portray Abrams as a threat to law enforcement, noting that many of the sheriffs have been vocal supporters of Kemp.

“Stacey Abrams does not support defunding the police, and is a longtime supporter of investing in law enforcement alongside building community trust and fostering law enforcement accountability,” said Abrams spokesman Alex Floyd.

He added that the foundation’s bylaws “prohibit board members from approving, supporting or opposing any potential grants – all of which are determined by staff. No grant reflects or changes Stacey’s views.”

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