Republican Brian Kemp resigned Thursday as Georgia's secretary of state, a day after his campaign said he has enough votes to become Georgia governor, even though his election rival is conceding nothing in one of the nation's marquee midterm races. As the state's top election official, Kemp oversaw the race, and his resignation Thursday morning came as a hearing began for a lawsuit in which five voters asked that he be barred from exercising his duties in any future management of his own election tally. Democratic rival Stacey Abrams' campaign made concerns that Kemp supervised his own election a central issue in the contest. Kemp's resignation takes effect just before noon Thursday, the AP reports. Abrams, who's aiming to become the first black woman elected governor in US history, points to ballots that have yet to be counted and says there's still the possibility of a December runoff.
Her campaign says she must pick up about 15,000 votes to do so. Without providing specifics, Kemp said in a WSB Radio interview that Abrams is using "old math" and that the number "is actually more like 30,000 votes." Late Wednesday afternoon, Kemp aide Ryan Mahoney told reporters on a conference call, "We are declaring victory." Abrams' campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, retorted a few hours later that the Kemp campaign offered "no proof" other than nonspecific provisional ballot counts released by Kemp's official state office. The standoff leaves open the possibility of litigation as Abrams' campaign has pushed for the continued counting of absentee, mail-in, and provisional ballots. If a runoff is necessary, the second round would take place Dec. 4. (Oprah responded to racist robocalls in the state during the race.)