The Republican candidate in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, withdrew from the final televised debate on Sunday, prompting the event’s cancellation. The New York Times reported that Kemp altered his schedule at the last minute and decided to campaign with Donald Trump in Macron rather than face his Democratic challenger, Stacy Abrams.
Initially, Kemp blamed Abrams for the event’s cancellation. In a tweet, he accused her of rejecting his alternative proposal of a Monday night debate. The Sunday night debate was organized in September and its time of 5pm had been set seven weeks ago.
Lauren Groh-Wargo, Stacy Abrams’ campaign manager, told the New York Times, “we believe it would be irresponsible to break our commitment to accommodate his failures”.
Groh-Wargo revealed to the Moultrie Observer that she was not surprised by Kemp’s withdrawal. She said, “his entire career has been defined by his failure to keep commitments”.
The event organizers, WSB-TV, were also unambiguous over which candidate should shoulder the blame for the event’s cancellation. WSB’s News Director, Misti Turnbull, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “once Secretary Kemp pulled out at the last minute, the candidates could not agree to a new time”.
Polling indicates that Kemp and Abrams are running neck and neck in the run-up to polling day. Both candidates are pulling in prominent figures to help their campaigns in the final few days of campaigning.
The New York Times reported that Oprah Winfrey will campaign with Stacy Abrams in Atlanta this week and former president Barack Obama will visit Atlanta on Friday. Kemp is also pulling out all the stops. Mike Pence is due to make three stops across Georgia on Thursday.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.