Georgia’s Democratic Party said Tuesday Republican Brian Kemp should step down as Secretary of State because he is running for governor. Staying in the job, the party said, could risk “the integrity of the election.”
In a news release, party officials said Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Max Cleland both resigned the post when they ran for higher office. Kemp said he can still serve as the state’s top elections officials while running for governor.
“The same people that are criticizing me on that if If I resign, they’d criticize me for leaving the office saying, ‘You’re scared and running because elections are not secure,’” Kemp said. “It’s just a political argument.”
Kemp noted that former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat, didn’t resign either when she ran for governor. Kemp’s Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, said the decision to resign — or not — is up to him.
“I have expressed deep reservations about his management of voter registration, and I find those to be challenges that continue to go unanswered,” Abrams said at a press conference Wednesday. “But, it is to each candidate in every race to decide how you want to be viewed by the public, and the decisions you’re willing to make, and the sacrifices you’re willing to make.”
In 2014, Kemp opened an investigation into The New Georgia Project, a voter registration group Abrams used to run. Kemp said the investigation was prompted by complaints of voter registration fraud his office received. Abrams argued the forged forms were a fraction of those collected by her organization.