The Jolt: Kemp tells of first lady’s miscarriage in debate against Abrams

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The second and final faceoff between Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams featured an extended debate over the hot-button issue of abortion.

Kemp signed the 2019 law that bans most abortions in Georgia after fetal cardiac activity has been detected. That’s usually at about six-weeks, before most women know they are pregnant.

During a lengthy back-and-forth between the candidates about whether the law allows women to be investigated for having a miscarriage, Kemp revealed for the first time publicly that that first lady Marty Kemp experienced a miscarriage early in their marriage.

“I have been in the doctor’s office with my wife and seen two heartbeats on ultrasound. I’ve gone back a week or so later and saw one heartbeat,” Kemp said. “My wife and I both had a hard time having our first child. She miscarried.”

Kemp said that their oldest daughter, Jarrett, was born from that pregnancy and called miscarriage “a tragic, tragic, traumatic situation.”

Although Georgia’s new law does not penalize women for having a miscarriage, Democrats have warned that the statute opens the door to police investigating women to determine if a pregnancy loss was the result of an illegal abortion.

On Sunday night, Abrams repeatedly described Georgia’s six-week abortion ban as having been crafted and passed through the General Assembly by “men who do not understand biology.”

Kemp’s revelation Sunday night could convince some voters that he understands both biology and the personal toll of miscarriage.

In response to the governor’s revelation, Abrams said, “The tragic stories of miscarriage should not be political fodder, but they should also not be fodder for investigations. And the problem with this bill is it does not discern the difference.”


LISTEN UP: We’ve got a special edition of the Politically Georgia podcast this morning, breaking down all the details from Sunday night’s final debate between Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.

And with the results of the final pre-election poll from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution coming out at noon today, look out for another special episode of the Politically Georgia podcast tomorrow morning. We’ll have all of the deep-in-the-weeds poll details you’re looking for ahead of Election Day.


BACKLASH. If you’re a GOP-leaning voter, you probably won’t be able to avoid a clip from Sunday night’s debate of Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams clashing over law enforcement.

The exchange started with Kemp’s boast that 107 Georgia sheriffs support him for reelection, including several Democrats. He said their approval proves they know who “is going to be with them, who has their back and who continues to have their back.”

That’s when Abrams responded that she didn’t expect their blessing because she has never been a member of the “good ol’ boys club.”

“So no, I don’t have 107 sheriffs who want to be able to take Black people off the streets, who want to be able to go without accountability,” she said. “I don’t think every sheriff wants that, but I do know that we need a governor who believes in both defending law enforcement but also defending the people of Georgia.”

The criticism from the right came quickly, including from conservative radio host Erick Erickson, who Tweeted that while Abrams had a good debate, “Abrams accused 107 sheriffs of wanting lock up black people. The issue for the suburbs is crime. This is going to hurt her.” He also predicted that “she has probably also sunk Warnock, too.”


Kanye West, now known as Ye, seen in New York on Sept. 12 2022. Several companies have cut ties with the rapper and designer over his antisemitic outbursts and other provocations. West recently posted his support of U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker on Instagram. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)

Credit: Nina Westervelt/The New York Times

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Credit: Nina Westervelt/The New York Times

KANYE WALKER TALKER. As Kanye West’s reputation continues to unravel after increasingly erratic and offensive behavior, he is dipping his toe into Georgia politics.

The entertainer posted a photograph to his Instagram feed of Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, with the caption: “PRO LIFE.”

West has recently unleashed a blizzard of antisemitic statements and recently wore a shirt with a slogan linked to white supremacists. He also accused Jewish people of trying to incite a “Holocaust” against Black Americans.

If West’s nod for Walker seems out of left field, it’s not.

In fact, Walker came to West’s defense in 2018 after a segment on CNN slammed the entertainer for supporting Donald Trump. The segment featured CNN’s Don Lemon with panelists Tara Setmayer and Bakari Sellers. From the AJC’s coverage at the time:

Walker's tweet said he “went to bed appalled over" Lemon's “despicable behavior laughing" at the commentators' “awful remarks."

Setmayer's Twitter response began with three loaded words: "Bless your heart."

“I'm an actual conservative, who's worked on policy advancing those principles for 20+yrs," she wrote. “I'll never be a shill for Trump."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Walker’s Senate campaign did not respond Sunday to requests for comment about the apparent endorsement from West.


NO QUESTIONS. U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign released a new video Monday morning highlighting the many, many times that GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker and his campaign have refused to answer specific questions from the press.


From left: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former President Barack Obama and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)  at an event in College Park on Oct. 28, 2022. (Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times)

Credit: Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

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Credit: Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

OBAMA-RAMA. Former President Barack Obama drew a crowd of thousands to the Gateway Center Arena in College Park Friday night, where he rallied voters for the Democratic ticket at the home of the Atlanta Dream.

The high-octane event included speeches from gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who made some of their most pointed attacks yet against their Republican opponents.

Obama told Georgia Democrats to stay energized ahead of Election Day and said they “deserve better” than the Republicans on the ballot, whom he described as threats to democracy.

“I’m here to tell you that tuning out is not an option. Despair is not an option,” Obama said. “The only way to make this economy fair is if we, all of us, fight for it. The only way to save democracy is if we, together, nurture it and fight for it.”


Incumbent U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, left, and Senate hopeful Herschel Walker. (AJC)

Credit: AJC

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Credit: AJC

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker both lost mentors Friday.

In Walker’s case, it was former University of Georgia head football coach Vince Dooley. Walker was the star running back on the 1980 team that Dooley coached to a national championship. Dooley recently recorded a TV ad endorsing Walker, which Barbara Dooley has said the campaign can continue to use.

“Without Coach Dooley, there is no Herschel Walker,” Walker said in a statement. “He helped make me the man I am today and I will never be able to thank him enough for everything he did for me.”

Within hours of Dooley’s passing, Warnock’s mentor, Rev. Calvin Butts III, also passed away. Butts was the pastor of New York’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, where Warnock rose to become one of Butt’s chief deputies.

“I knew early on that I wanted to be an activist-pastor, and Martin Luther King Jr. was my model,” Warnock said Friday. “But Dr. King died a year before I was born. Calvin Butts was for me a living model for how to do what I wanted to do.”


TRAIL MIX. Be sure to check each afternoon through Election Day for our “On the Georgia Trail” feature, where we’ll recap the news and notes from the day on the campaign trail in Georgia.

Among the highlights from a jam-packed Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the trail this weekend:

  • Herschel Walker mocked Chuck Schumer’s hot mic moment where he the Senate majority leader described the Georgia U.S. Senate race as “going downhill” for Democrat Raphael Warnock.
  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock held campaign stops in DeKalb, Douglas and Clayton counties over the weekend.
  • Stacey Abrams and Democrats made several stops in the metro Atlanta suburbs with a focus on abortion rights. Democrats hope the issue will sway college-educated suburban women for their candidates.



  • Senate candidate Herschel Walker has campaign stops planned for Ringgold and Cartersville.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp will be in McDonough, Peachtree City, Newnan, and Carrollton.
  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has no public events planned, but returns to the trail Tuesday.

And on Wednesday, Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson is hosting a webinar with several analysts to discuss what the surge of early voting means for Georgia’s midterm. You can sign up here.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with her husband, Paul Pelosi, during the ceremonial swearing-in of the 116th Congress in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 3, 2019. Paul Pelosi was hospitalized after he was assaulted by someone who broke into the couple’s residence in San Francisco early on Friday morning, Oct. 28, 2022, a spokesman said. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Credit: Doug Mills/New York Times

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Credit: Doug Mills/New York Times

FEAR AND VIOLENCE. The news of the brutal attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought new attention to threats that elected officials and candidates face in an increasingly polarized climate. Paul Pelosi underwent surgery following the attack in his home and remains hospitalized,

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock said over the weekend that he tries not to think much about security threats as he crisscrosses the state.

“I don’t like to dwell on these things,” he said. “But there’s no question that sadly we’re in a political moment where you have mainstream political players who are more focused on stirring up divisions among us, rather than helping us to see the ways in which we have far more in common than the differences that might separate us.”

Georgia politicians spend thousands of dollars on security. The heightened threat environment has also changed how they campaign. Events are less likely to be open to the public or advertised in advance, with campaigns instead relying on local organizers and internal contacts to curate guest lists.


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