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Expert analyzes strengths and challenges for Georgia governor's race

Three major candidates running for governor
052422 kemp abrams purdue head shots.jpg
Posted at 5:00 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 21:38:09-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Though the presidential election wrapped up over a year ago, it’s still having a big influence on the current race to be Georgia’s next governor.

We’re keeping an eye on these three major candidates. Governor Brian Kemp, David Perdue and Stacey Abrams are all competing for the spot.

Dr. James LaPlant is a Professor of Political Science at Valdosta State University. For him, primary day in Georgia is a big deal!

“For a political scientist, it’s like having Christmas in May,” Dr. LaPlant shared.

He made a bold prediction for the Republican primary for governor in Georgia.

“My fearless prediction is that the Trump endorsement is really not going to matter in the gubernatorial primary,” Dr. LaPlant said. “Governor Kemp will win.”

He talked about the former president’s endorsement of Kemp’s challenger, David Perdue.

“Those republicans here in Georgia talking about how much fraud there is with mail-in voting, the election was stolen in 2020, it could be stolen again, it could be a repeat of that January 2021 runoff where urban vote is strong,” Dr. LaPlant added.

Rural white voters may stay home questioning whether their vote matters. That is one reason Dr. LaPlant said Perdue lost in that runoff. Now, Dr. LaPlant suggests all the talk of election fraud could suppress the votes Perdue needs again. It all comes down to getting out the vote.

“One of the things that I’ll be watching is in some of the rural counties here in Southwest Georgia, what is turn out looking like” Dr. LaPlant pondered.

The winner of May’s primary will likely take on Democrat, Stacey Abrams, come November.

“The challenge for her is the general election if she faces Kemp or Perdue and then fundraising. The amount of money Stacey has been able to raise vs. what Kemp and Perdue have raised and are not spending in the primary,” Dr. LaPlant said. “Stacey Abrams has an incredible voter mobilization machine.”

Afterall, she only lost by 54,723 votes against Kemp when they ran against each other in 2018.

That’s roughly the population of Valdosta. Overcoming an incumbent who has had successful legislative sessions and a strong economy won’t be easy.

“I also told you if you put me in office, I would do exactly what I said I was going to do on the campaign trail,” Governor Kemp said in a 2022 debate.

“I am running for Georgia,” Abrams told ABC 27. “My responsibility is to remind every Georgian of what’s possible if we work together.”

That could be a challenge even if she does win in November.

“She’s still going to be working with a republican state house and senate. I don’t see any dynamic where those two chambers go to the democratic party,” Dr. LaPlant concluded.

If you look at polling in Georgia, at least among republican voters, election fraud and election integrity are some of the biggest concerns, right along with inflation.