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Abrams, Kemp exchange gas tax blows as gubernatorial rematch gets heated

FIRST ON FOX: The race for Georgia’s governorship is heating up as incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams traded blows over the state gas tax in their rematch bout.

Abrams called on Kemp to suspend Georgia’s gas tax until the end of the year in a new ad that will be played at gas stations across the state, highlighting Abrams’ pledge not to raise taxes as well as her calls for Kemp to suspend the gas tax through the end of 2022.

GAS PRICES SURGE TO $5 PER GALLON, REACHING ALL-TIME HIGH: AAA

The Georgia Democrat blasted Kemp over his “empty rhetoric” on gas taxes in an exclusive statement to FOX News Digital, calling the “month-to-month” extensions on the tax pause “political theater.”

“Brian Kemp’s empty rhetoric about gas taxes means nothing if he’s not willing to commit and do the right thing for Georgia families,” Abrams said. “Suspending the gas tax through the end of the year will give Georgians stability amidst rising prices, and that’s why I firmly believe it’s past time for us to do so.”

“Short month-to-month extensions of the gas tax suspension are nothing more than political theater. Georgians deserve better,” she continued.

Kemp’s camp fired back at Abrams after her shot, with campaign spokesperson Tate Mitchell accusing Abrams of “lying” about the gas tax in an attempt to put up a smokescreen about her voting records on taxes in a statement to FOX News Digital.

“Stacey Abrams is lying to Georgians to distract from her long record of advocating for higher taxes and more government spending and the disastrous inflation caused by her own party’s policies,” Mitchell said.

Gov. Brian Kemp's campaign fired back at Abrams after her gas tax comments.

“Governor Kemp refunded over $1 billion to Georgia taxpayers, has suspended the gas tax three times this year in consultation with legislative leadership and signed the largest income tax cut in state history,” he continued. “He’ll continue fighting to bring Georgians economic relief from the Biden-Abrams agenda.”

Mitchell also told FOX News Digital that Georgia state law requires any gas tax suspension enacted by the governor to be approved by the legislature the next time they meet and that the suspension is not on a month-to-month basis.

Additionally, Mitchell pointed to a 2009 opinion piece by Abrams where the Democrat called to raise taxes amid the then-recession.

In the opinion piece, Abrams wrote Georgians needed to “get real” on taxes after years “of economic prosperity have spoiled Americans” and that Americans had “grown used to a culture of credit and immediate gratification.”

“We must acknowledge in a time of an economic decline that services have costs, that government is a tool, not a weapon, and that taxes are a current payment and a future investment in a healthy, vibrant community,” Abrams wrote while calling it “political suicide to laud the virtue of taxes.”

Abrams also wrote that taxes are “not fun” but “necessary” for a government to function while calling Georgia’s taxes “wisely low,” and that the Peach State has “thrived because it has hewn itself to a set of conservative principles.”

Stacey Abrams' campaign returned fire to Gov. Brian Kemp's camp, heating up the race around a key issue: gas prices.

“We have grown our state carefully, balanced our budgets thoughtfully and spread the responsibility fairly,” Abrams wrote. “No one is exempt from the shared costs of public safety, education and transportation.”

In response to the Kemp campaign’s allegations of lying, Abrams’ spokesperson Alex Floyd told Fox News Digital that the former Peach State lawmaker “worked hard to stop the largest tax hike in Georgia history and has committed to no new tax increases if elected governor.”

“Meanwhile, Brian Kemp has spent his time in office giving a tax handout to his wealthy backers as his personal wealth skyrocketed as governor,” Floyd continued. “If Brian Kemp is so concerned about tax increases, he should commit to Georgians today that he will follow Stacey Abrams’ call and suspend the gas tax through the end of 2022.”

Floyd told Fox News Digital that the Abrams campaign was calling on Kemp to make a commitment to extend the gas tax suspension within the bounds of the law and not necessarily in a singular sweeping action, which the law is less clear on.

Abrams’ spokesperson also noted there is nothing in the law preventing a governor from pledging to suspend the gas tax in the future, even on a monthly basis. 

Additionally, Floyd pointed to a pair of articles that included a 2018 TIME magazine article that credited Abrams, at the time the Georgia House minority leader, with single-handedly sinking a 2011 state tax overhaul that would have raised taxes on 82% of Georgia families using a color-coded spreadsheet.

The ad highlights Abrams’ pledge to not increase taxes as well as her call to suspend the gas tax through the end of 2022, and will play on the screens of over 5,500 gas station pumps across Georgia.

“Stacey Abrams understands the struggles working families are facing in Georgia while Brian Kemp refuses to provide them with the stability they need by extending the gas tax suspension until the end of 2022,” campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a press release.

“Our state has the resources to invest in Georgians and bring down costs for everyone,” she continued. “That’s why Stacey has made it clear that not only will she not impose any new tax increases as governor, but that she supports suspending the state gas tax for the rest of year so that families can have more money back in their pockets.”

The ad hit the airwaves ahead of a chaotic Independence Day weekend that saw mass flight cancelations and sky-high gas prices.

Gas prices have been the elephant in the room for Democrats since President Joe Biden took office, and the prices show no sign of going back down anytime soon.

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