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Gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Gov. Brian Kemp clash over how to handle high crime in Georgia

Public safety in the Peach State has become a leading issue for candidates running for governor of Georgia, with incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and repeat Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams in a battle over how to reduce crime.

While Gov. Kemp calls Abrams’ policy a “radical agenda that puts criminals first,” Abrams insists the governor is misrepresenting her position. 

“I do not believe in defunding the police,” Abrams said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News. “I’ve repeatedly said that. Brian Kemp is lying. He’s taking my words out of context, and he is denying the meaning of what I have said and what I have done.”

In response Wednesday, the governor told Fox News again that Abrams wants to defund the police and said, “the good thing for Georgians is, despite her telling people that I’m lying, they know that I’ve been a truthful governor. I mean, people may disagree with certain policies I’ve done… but they know I’ve been truthful with them… and they know dang well I have stood with our men and women in law enforcement.”

STACEY ABRAMS FUNDRAISER HOST DONATED $10K TO BAIL FUND AIMED AT ‘WORLD WITHOUT PRISONS, POLICING’

Gov. Kemp has tweeted at least once every day for nearly a week attacking Abrams’ public safety policy, making statements that claim “Stacey’s dangerous agenda puts criminals first, while putting [Georgia] law enforcement and Georgia families in harm’s way.” 

But the he-said, she-said is in full gear for the statewide gubernatorial race. Abrams spoke at a rally in Dublin, Georgia, telling over a hundred supporters that “Brian Kemp is a dangerous and extreme governor who has passed callous and mean-spirited laws that put our people in danger.”

Abrams has also taken to social media to target voters. Her most recent post on public safety says in part, “Unlike my opponent, I have a consistent record of advancing a comprehensive plan on criminal justice reform and public safety.”

More than a hundred Georgia sheriffs echoed Governor Kemp’s thoughts about Abrams, releasing a statement to condemn the Democrat over her ties to the Marguerite Casey Foundation, a group known to support defunding police. Abrams sits on the Board of Directors. 

Alex Floyd, a campaign spokesperson, told Fox News that the “Foundation bylaws prohibit board members from approving, supporting or opposing any potential grant. Foundation staff members determine the large number of grants awarded per year. No grant reflects or changes Stacey’s views.”

GEORGIA GOV. BRIAN KEMP CALLS ON STACEY ABRAMS TO RESIGN FROM RADICAL ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’ FOUNDATION

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, running for his own re-election, called on Abrams Wednesday to “resign from this organization and to return the more than $50,000 that she has pocketed.” He claims Abrams is “panicking” because of polling numbers and that’s why he says she “suddenly wants to support law enforcement.” 

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, moments before AG Carr’s comments, showed Abrams and Kemp in a tie with both receiving 48% support from likely voters. When asked for input on the poll, the governor told Fox News, “I’m not too worried about polling right now. That’s not what we’re seeing on our internals.”

At a March rally in Athens, Abrams told a crowd of supporters, “I want to create better citizens in Georgia, not better criminals.” She reiterated that notion in her interview with Fox News as she explained part of her public safety policy that would give criminals a clean record if they’re able to stay crime-free for a certain period of time on a case-by-case basis. 

“We have to say that we believe there is a moment where redemption is part of Georgia’s story. And right now, we do not. We only have a governor who believes in punishment.” Abrams went on to allege that Gov. Kemp instead “believes in recidivism, the same people committing more and more crimes because he never gives them a chance to become better citizens,” Abrams said.

According to the non-profit, non-partisan organization Prison Policy Institute, Georgia has the worst incarceration rates.

Another hot issue in the Georgia race is the recently passed constitutional carry law, signed by Governor Kemp back in April 2022. The law will remove the license and background check requirements for gun owners to carry a firearm in public. While the governor says this will ensure citizens’ rights to protect themselves from criminals and has received high praise from gun advocates in Georgia, Abrams says the governor has instead “put our people in danger.”

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