As the race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp for governor of Georgia remains too close to call, Kemp has offered his resignation as the state’s secretary of state.
Kemp sent a letter to current Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announcing that he was stepping down from his post effective Thursday, to focus on his “transition to [his] gubernatorial administration.” While Abrams has refused to concede and has suggested she will push for a recount, Kemp’s campaign declared him the winner on Wednesday.
Kemp had faced criticism for maintaining his role as secretary of state throughout the campaign, which had reportedly allowed him to purge voters from the rolls and made him responsible for vote counting in a race in which he was a candidate. Numerous groups and individuals called for Kemp’s resignation before the election, including former President Jimmy Carter.
Hours before the polls closed on Tuesday, Georgia voters filed a lawsuit accusing Kemp of using “the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and disadvantage his opponents.” The suit called on the court to block Kemp from overseeing the race.
Kemp’s resignation would mean that he will be unable to certify the final vote count. Nevertheless, the Georgia Democratic Party took issue with his decision to step down in the aftermath of the election, calling it a “self-coronation” and a “legally meaningless political stunt.”
With tens of thousands of mail-in ballots not yet counted, Kemp maintained a slight lead over Abrams as of Wednesday, with 50.3% of the vote compared to Abrams’ 48.7%.