The gubernatorial election in Georgia is coming up November 6. The candidates in this election — Stacey Abrams, Casey Cagle, and Brian Kemp, all come from similar backgrounds but have radically different personalities and political positions. They are all southern raised, former or current Georgia politicians, and have attended Georgia universities, but they all have different ways of how they want to make Georgia a better state.
Stacey Abrams, the nominee for the Democratic party and former Georgia Speaker of the House, grew up Gulfport, Mississippi. A favorite among Democrats across the state, in the May 22 gubernatorial primary, Abrams won against her opponent, Stacey Evans, who lost by 53 percent. Abrams believes in investing in local businesses, being welcoming to all people, and is a strong supporter in public schools. As a state representative, she proved this by turning down a House vote that would give a $42 million dollar tax credit, that would go toward private schools in the state. Abrams is also a supporter of making it easier for students to obtain higher education after high school. Although Abrams is seen as a respectable candidate, she does have some controversies from her past. One of the biggest is while as a state legislator, she helped to approve the Georgia state Republican effort to gerrymander, which was a bill that passed unanimously in the Georgia House. Another controversy is she faces is a history of more than $200,000 in debt, which she says should not disqualify her from the race. Even though she is in debt, she has used it as a way to show voters that she is not an out of touch and has struggles just like other Georgians.
Casey Cagle, the current Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, is fighting to be the nominee of the Republican party. With the backing and support of current Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, he hopes to win in the Republican run off against Brian Kemp set for July 24. The Georgia Southern University graduate is currently behind in the Republican primary by 18 percent in a FOX 5/Opinion Savvy poll poll released Thursday, July 19, Cagle plans to decrease taxes by $100 million and wants to create 500,000 jobs in Georgia, which would beat the current Governor Nathan Deal’s job creation record of 319,000 jobs. Although Cagle says he is pro-business, he has been caught in controversy with Atlanta’s largest employer, Delta Airlines. In February,, Cagle said he would block a $40 million tax incentive for Delta Airlines. This was in response to Delta pulling its discount program for the National Rifle Association after the Parkland school shooting, where 17 people died. The NRA ended up endorsed Cagle on April 12. While Cagle did not avoid a run-off against his opponent, Brian Kemp he’s hoping his current track record and defense for the Second Amendment will get him the votes to become the next Governor of Georgia.
Brian Kemp, Cagle’s opponent in the upcoming run-off, is also hoping to claim the title as the next governor of the state. His chances are even more likely since President Donald Trump backed Kemp on Wednesday saying, “I give him my full and total endorsement.” Kemp grew up in Athens, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia, where he got a degree in Agriculture. The former Secretary of State of Georgia, he is also the owner of Kemp Properties, a “small business specializing in real estate investments and property management.” Kemp is a strong advocate of gun rights, small business, low taxes, and toughening up on illegal immigration. In a controversial ad, a teen who is interested in one of his daughters interacts with Kemp about why he wants to become governor. The twist to the ad is Kemp is holding a shotgun in his hand. Kemp has also received criticism, primarily from his opponent, for a voter data breach in 2015 when he was Secretary of State. This was because of a clerical error where voter information was sent to 12 groups consisting of Georgia political parties and media groups. Although Kemp was in charge of voting, he blamed an I.T. employee, who was promptly fired for making the error. Kemp refers to himself as a “politically incorrect conservative.” He hopes to win by aligning himself with Donald Trump, who ran with a similar message in 2016.
James Hernandez, 16, a rising junior at the Westminster Schools, supports Casey Cagle for governor and identifies himself a Republican. He believes Cagle meets his standards to be the next governor. “I would vote for Casey Cagle, because Georgia’s a red state and it needs strong leadership,” Hernandez said. He says he regularly backs Republicans and believes that Democrats are the same way. “Most people are just voting along party lines, especially with Stacey Abrams commenting she thinks she could win without Republican support.” He added, “Her strategy is essentially to convince liberal Democrats to vote for her.” Because of that, Hernandez believes that because she won’t get as many Republican and independent votes as “someone like [former U.S. Senate candidate] Michelle Nunn.” “She might reach further to the far left, but I don’t think that strategy is going work in a state like Georgia,” he said. When asked why he’s supporting Cagle over his GOP opponent, Brian Kemp, Hernandez said, “Casey Cagle is more establishment and he’s been endorsed by the current governor [Nathan Deal].” He believes that Kemp is too controversial and lands more far right, compared to Cagle. Hernandez believes that this race is more about party than personality. He says, “both have been utilizing party support, and that’s what makes it a party race.” As the interview concluded, Hernandez shared his message to whoever becomes governor of Georgia. “I think everyone deserves financial security in the state of Georgia. They should work on lowering poverty and should work with organizations like the Atlanta Community Food Bank,” he said.
Hunter McElveen, 17, a rising senior at Walnut Grove High School, also supports Cagle, but identifies as a moderate. One of the reasons he isn’t supporting Kemp is primarily because of his campaign ads. “I feel like the [campaign ads] are too aggressive. It’s too much.” He added, “I’m not big on pointing a gun at someone at all.” Although he does not support Kemp, McElveen believes that both candidates are pretty similar policy-wise, but thinks Cagle seems more moderately conservative. Just like Hernandez, McElveen believes the race is more political than it is about personality. McElveen also likes Cagle’s support of small businesses. He thinks that Cagle will create a lot of jobs for the state. Although he believes Cagle will continue to make Georgia a better state, he thinks Cagle’s rejection of the Delta tax incentive in February was a bad idea. “That was one of the only things about Cagle I didn’t like,” he said. He then added, “I support creating jobs and business more than I do the NRA.”
McElveen was asked who’ he’d support if the election boiled down to a race between Kemp and Abrams this fall, and he said he’d support Abrams. “Kemp kind of came off the wrong way,” McElveen said. He came off too aggressive, he came off too hard core.” Hernandez and McElveen both believe if Kemp is the nominee for the Republican party, Abrams would most likely win.
Eli Adkins, 14, is a rising sophomore at Morgan County High School, and is the co-founder of her school’s Young Democrats chapter. She supports Stacey Abrams for the race and believes her vision for Atlanta is best. “[Abrams] has some good policies, but also because she would be the first African-American female governor,” she said. She believes that Abrams is proof that America is moving forward. Adkins says she had issues with Kemp’s campaign ads. “I didn’t think that it was appropriate and it really turned me off,” she said. Even though she does not support Cagle or Kemp, she believes they do want to make Georgia a better place. “They love Georgia, and I know they’re trying to make it [Georgia] better but not in the direction that it should be moving,” Adkins said. She believes Georgia should move into a more progressive direction. “I think it should be moving left. If Amazon came to Atlanta, people with more left views would come,” she explained. As an immigrant, she feels obligated to support a candidate who is for immigration. Her message to the next governor of Georgia is, “I want them to know the stories of people not just living in metro Atlanta. Not just living in Buckhead or Midtown, but everywhere.” She added, “Everyone has different views, and each candidate should listen, and find the best solution to their problems.”
Although Stacey Abrams is the Democratic nominee, the Republicans must decide who will be their nominee Tuesday, July 24. To vote in the election, coming up November 6, you can register online or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
UPDATE (7/24): Brian Kemp has won the Republican nomination.
Terell Wright is 15 year old student from Walnut Grove High school. He is a student columnist for the Walton Tribune, and a teen staffer for VOX ATL.