Brian Kemp steps down as secretary of state after declaring victory over Stacey Abrams in Georgia governor’s race

Abrams refuses to concede

Midterm drama continues

ATLANTA (RNN) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has resigned as Georgia’s secretary of state. He officially stepped down just before noon on Thursday.

The announcement at a press conference with Gov. Nathan Deal came a day after Kemp claimed victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams.

“Thanks Governor Deal! I look forward to working together in the months ahead to transition,” Kemp tweeted. “Let’s keep choppin’!”

Kemp maintains a slim majority over Abrams with almost all the precincts reporting. He holds about 50.3 percent of the vote.

Abrams said on Tuesday night she would not concede the race until all the ballots were counted, including provisional ballots and those mailed in. Her campaign put a lot of effort into early voting and mail-in ballots.

A runoff only happens for the governor’s race if no candidate reaches 50 percent of the vote.

Kemp said Thursday that only about 20,000 provisional ballots remain uncounted in the race.

He said even if Abrams “got 100 percent of those votes, we still win.”

Kemp’s resignation announcement came as a federal court hearing was being held on a lawsuit from five Georgia residents who asked a judge to block Kemp from having any further role in overseeing the election.

Abrams would need 26,142 more votes to cause Kemp to fall below the 50 percent line - without Kemp getting any more votes.

“This election is over. The votes have been counted. And the results are clear: Brian Kemp is the governor-elect," Austin Chambers, a Kemp adviser, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The campaign was fraught with scandal and clashes.

Kemp, who is secretary of state, did not resign his post, earning backlash from opponents who pointed out he would oversee his own election.

Critics raised this point during Election Day when ballot machines failed to work at many polling places.

The Abrams' campaign said it will continue to fight to get all outstanding votes counted in the race and won’t accept Kemp’s declaration of victory.

At a news conference Thursday, Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said the campaign demands that the secretary of state's office "release all the data, all the numbers, and they need to count every single vote."

Her comments came shortly after Kemp announced he was stepping down and moving forward with the transition to become the state’s next governor. Kemp is a Republican. Abrams is a Democrat.

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