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State & Regional Govt & Politics
Georgia 2018: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues
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Georgia 2018: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues

Georgia 2018: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues
Republican Brian Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Georgia Gubernatorial election in November.

Georgia 2018: Where the candidates for governor stand on the issues

Georgia voters are set to elect a new governor in 2018. 

Stacey Abrams --  the former House minority leader -- won the Democratic nomination. Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the Republican nomination. 

Learn about how the candidates plan to take on the major issues facing the state. 

Taxes  |  Medicaid expansion  |  Education/HOPE  |   Gun laws  |   Criminal justice/drug policy  |   Immigration  |  Religious Liberty  |  Abortion  |  Medical Marijuana  |  Transportation  |  Water wars  |  Rural issues  |  Climate change/environment  

Budget and Taxes

Republican

Brian Kemp: Plans to put a cap on state spending, adjusted for growth and inflation, cut income taxes, increase teacher pay and eliminate “wasteful” tax incentives.

In Depth:  State spending could be biggest difference in Georgia governor’s race

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Backtracked on an earlier position that she would reverse a state income tax cut.  Supports tax credit for lower-income families, expanding Medicaid and new scholarships and tax credits to make child care more affordable. 

In Depth: Abrams shifts, says she would now let Georgia’s income tax cut stand

Medicaid

Republican

Kemp: Opposes expanding Medicaid but supports increasing rural hospital tax credit program and seeking federal waivers to help stabilize insurance premiums. 

In Depth: Kemp’s health care policy opposes Medicaid expansion, supports waivers

Democrat

Abrams: Supports expanding Medicaid and exploring a program to stabilize health insurance premiums. 

In Depth: Medicaid expansion question fuels Georgia governor’s race

In Depth: Abrams’ health care plan centers on Medicaid expansion for poor

Education/HOPE

Republican 

Kemp: Would support “school choice” effort by doubling the state tax credit for student scholarship organizations and boost funding for charter schools. 

In Depth: Kemp proposes a $600 million annual plan to boost teacher pay

In Depth: Kemp unveils school-safety plan

Democrat

Abrams: Supports “historic investment” in early childcare and learning and public schools and a needs-based higher education scholarship. Says she staved off deeper cuts to lottery-funded HOPE scholarship by working with Republicans to keep the program solvent. 

In Depth: Georgia gubernatorial candidates stake out education plans 

In Depth: Abrams has an expansive (and expensive?) education plan

Gun laws

Republican

Brian Kemp: Opposes new gun restrictions and backs “constitutional carry,” which would let gun owners conceal and carry handguns without a permit. He proposed a sales tax holiday for guns and ammunition. Kemp also wants to end some “gun-free” zones. Ran provocative ad showing him brandishing shotgun next to young man courting his daughter. Won support from GeorgiaCarry.Org, a pro-gun group. 

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

In Depth: Gun rights vs. gun control a major factor for many Georgia voters

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Supports stricter gun laws, including universal background checks for private sales of firearms and a repeal of the “campus carry” legislation that allows permit holders to carry weapons on college campuses. 

In Depth: In Georgia, Democrats chart new course on gun control 

Criminal Justice/drug policy

Republican

Kemp: Calls gang violence a public safety “crisis” and plans to create a new unit in the state attorney general’s office devoted to fighting the crime. Opposes in-state cultivation of medical marijuana 

In Depth: Kemp ratchets up focus on gang ‘crisis’ in governor’s race

Democrat

Abrams: Pledges to eliminate the use of cash bail for some poor defendants, backs taking steps to decriminalize marijuana, expanding accountability courts and ending capital punishment. 

In Depth: Criminal justice reveals wide split in Georgia governor’s race

Immigration

Republican 

Kemp: Has proposed creating a database for tracking unauthorized immigrants with criminal convictions and for speeding up their deportations. 

Democrat

Abrams: Opposed Georgia House Bill 87, a crackdown on illegal immigration that lawmakers approved in 2011, saying it has “harmed our immigrant and refugee communities.” 

In Depth: Abrams was asked if ‘Dreamers’ should get the HOPE scholarship. Here’s what she said:

Religious Liberty

Republican

Kemp: Pledged to sign “religious liberty” measure during the primary campaign. After winning the nomination he said that said he would veto any measure that veers from the federal version, known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, that became law in 1993. 

In Depth: Kemp: I will veto any legislation that veers from federal ‘religious liberty’ law 

Democrat

Abrams: opposed bills that threatened to legalize discrimination or allow some Georgians to be treated differently under the law. 

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

Abortion

Republican

Kemp: Has pledged to enact nation’s toughest abortion restrictions. He adopted that position hours after Mississippi enacted a law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

In Depth: Social issues recede to backdrop but remain key to some Georgia voters

Democrat

Abrams: Opposes further abortion restrictions. Planned Parenthood endorsed her during the primary campaign. 

Medical Marijuana

Republican

Brian Kemp: He supports a limited expansion of the medical marijuana program but opposes legislation allowing marijuana to be grown in the state, saying it should be up to Congress to tackle the debate. He also opposes decriminalizing marijuana. 

Democrat 

Stacey Abrams: She supports in-state cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. She would seek to decriminalize some marijuana offenses, and invoked a new Atlanta policy that calls for a maximum fine of $75 and no mandatory jail time for small amounts. 

Transportation

Republican

Brian Kemp: He’s been skeptical of a state-funded transit expansion, saying he first wants to know “what it’s going to cost and who’s going to pay for it.” As part of his plan to cap state spending, he said he wants to prioritize road projects such as the widening of truck routes to accommodate more freight. 

In Depth: Candidates for governor eye Georgia’s transportation needs

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: She’s supportive of efforts to expand transit and says it should be seen as a regional and economic issue. She’s called for more investments in trucking lanes and increased mobility for residents in rural counties. 

Water wars

Republican

Brian Kemp: Says he won’t strike a compromise for the sake of ending the waters wars that will leave “hardworking Georgians high and dry” and is ready to step up the legal fight. “I won’t back down, blink or sacrifice our state’s future on the altar of expediency.” 

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: She’s framed herself as a sharp-edged negotiator who will work to preserve the state’s water interests.

Rural issues

Republican

Brian Kemp: Pledges to bring jobs to rural communities by increasing access to high-speed internet in order to attract jobs to those areas. To improve rural health care, he wants to expand tax credits, stabilize insurance markets and increase access to doctors. However, he opposes Medicaid expansion.

In Depth: Georgia’s rural woes a big problem awaiting next governor

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Wants to boost rural economies by prioritizing health care. If elected, she vows to expand Medicaid to protect rural hospitals, increase access to telemedicine and support health care workers that want to practice medicine in rural counties. She also supports expanding internet access to help business owners and students in rural regions.

Climate change/environment

Republican

Brian Kemp: Says he supports“fact-based efforts” to protect the environment. His policy does not include any detailed plans to restore shoreline or take other overt preventive measures. He says “one-size-fits-all approach from state government is not the answer” and that local communities should decide their own codes and regulations. 

In Depth: Where the candidates for Georgia governor stand on climate change 

Democrat

Stacey Abrams: Calls “climate change is real” and would strengthen environmental protections. She says her policies could put the the state in position to create as many as 45,000 high-wage jobs in the growing alternative energy sector.

Complete Georgia elections coverage

Inside the Georgia governor election 2018: Latest polls and predictions

Georgia candidates for governor have mapped own paths to victory

Breaking down the ads of the race for governor

Read in-depth profiles about the candidates

Georgia elections central

Read More

News

  • An Arizona man is accused of animal cruelty after police found his dog strangled in the front yard of his Phoenix home, KNXV reported. >> Read more trending news  Ruben Ezekiel Garcia, 38, was arrested Sunday and is being held without bond in the Maricopa County Jail for animal cruelty and possession of drug paraphernalia. When police arrived at Garcia’s residence, they found a 1-year-old German shepherd tethered to a pole in Garcia’s front yard, KNXV reported. Police said the dog’s leash was connected to a chain collar at one end of the pole and was caught between two wooden slats. According to police, the dog struggled to free itself and died of strangulation from his collar. When he was arrested, Garcia asked police to allow his son to bring him a pair of pants. Police allegedly found a meth pipe inside one of the pockets, KNXV reported.
  • An truck driver based in Euclid, Ohio, is accused of causing the deaths of four people lastThursday afternoon in a fiery interstate crash in McDonough, Georgia. On Monday, authorities announced charges against the driver, 39-year-old Mohabe McCoy, since all four victims had been identified. He is facing charges of second-degree homicide by vehicle, a misdemeanor, improper turn and driving too fast for conditions. >> Read more trending news  The victim’s bodies were badly burned when McCoy’s tractor-trailer slammed into the back of their Chevrolet pickup truck on I-75, according to officials with the Henry County Police Department. The pickup truck, which was hauling pine straw, was pushed into the back of another tractor-trailer and went up in flames.  The victims were identified as Jose Ibarra Yanez, 42, Jaime Sanchez, 26, Fermin Sanchez, 20, and Juana Adaliris Ortiz-Martinez, 31. The three men and woman were from Dublin, Georgia.  The crash happened around 12:15 p.m. Thursday. At the time, northbound traffic was lagging after another crash on I-75 shut down the interstate before the I-675 interchange. Video from a nearby car dealership obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows the first tractor-trailer slowed before an exit, and the pickup truck followed suit. McCoy’s tractor-trailer, which was hauling potatoes, did not appear to slow down before plowing into the back of the truck in the video. McCoy was arrested Thursday evening after he was checked out at Atlanta Medical Center. He is being held Monday in the Henry County Jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond. 
  • A married Georgia police officer appeared in court with black eyes last week for his first court appearance in the homicide of his girlfriend, a paramedic who was found shot to death May 11 in her home.  William Leonard Talley, 51, is charged with murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and a violation of his oath as a public officer, according to Muscogee County Jail records. A judge on Saturday ordered Talley, a sergeant with the Columbus Police Department, be held without bond on the murder charge.  Talley, a married father of two teenage daughters, is accused of shooting Kelly Susanne Levinsohn, 44, inside her home. He was arrested in neighboring Harris County after crashing Levinsohn’s truck on Interstate 185, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.  >> Read more trending news The longtime police officer, who was left in critical condition in the crash, was hospitalized at Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital for five days before being released Thursday and booked into the jail.  His attorney, Jennifer Curry, told the Ledger-Enquirer that Talley is being housed away from the general population while he continues to recover from his injuries. Curry said Talley, a police officer since 2002, would be at risk among fellow inmates he helped put behind bars.  Curry on Saturday waived her client’s preliminary hearing and entered a not guilty verdict on his behalf.  “Our goal today really was to protect families on both sides, especially Mr. Talley’s children,” Curry told the newspaper. “They didn’t ask for this, so I’m trying to respect their privacy.” Talley’s wife was among the scant number of people in the courtroom Saturday. Despite his marital status, Columbus police officials have characterized Levinsohn’s death as the result of a domestic situation. They have not confirmed a romantic relationship between her and her alleged killer, though some of Levinsohn’s neighbors told WTVM in Columbus that the pair had been dating for more than a year.  Curry declined to comment Saturday on the nature of her client’s relationship with Levinsohn, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.  “Again, my goal today was to protect his two daughters,” Curry said. “I’m hoping that both families have time to understand what happened and come to terms with where we’re at now.” Columbus police officials said officers were called to Levinsohn’s home around 8 p.m. Saturday by an unidentified caller who told 911 dispatchers someone had been injured or killed in the home. The caller identified the suspect in the slaying as an officer with the department.  The caller met officers at Levinsohn’s home and told them the suspect had been in a car crash in Harris County, the Ledger-Enquirer reported. Officers went inside the home, where they found Levinsohn dead of a single gunshot wound.  They also found the paramedic’s vehicle to be missing, the newspaper said.  Columbus police Chief Ricky Boren told the Ledger-Enquirer that investigators recovered a gun believed to be the murder weapon. It was not a department-issued weapon, Boren said.  Talley, a patrol sergeant and SWAT team member, is on leave without pay pending a resolution of the case, the newspaper said.  Clark Rowell, who lives across the street from the crime scene, told WTVM his neighbor’s relationship with Talley was not always a peaceful one.  “One time, they had a bad argument out there on the front porch,” Rowell told the news station. “He went to the door, she opened it up and she wouldn’t let him in.” Rowell said after Levinsohn slammed the door on him, Talley “stomped” to his patrol car and left.  Talley’s own personnel record shows that he was also handcuffed by colleagues called to Levinsohn’s home more than a year before her slaying. Records obtained by the Ledger-Enquirer show officers were called to the scene around 7:41 p.m. March 11, 2018. Talley had been drinking, according to the report obtained by the newspaper.  “Talley had to be placed in handcuffs due to a brief struggle while officers attempted to calm him down and speak with him about his personal issues,” the report stated.  Two on-duty supervisors had to be called to Levinsohn’s home to deal with the situation. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, Talley served a single day’s suspension in September related to the incident.  He was not arrested, the newspaper said. It was his first disciplinary action in nearly a decade and his previous disciplinary issues were minor ones.  A sergeant since November 2009, Talley briefly became a detective in 2015, but transferred back to the patrol division less than a year later. Aside from the handful of disciplinary actions against him, he was given “glowing” performance evaluations, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.  Supervisors in 2017 complimented his “initiative” and recommended he try for a promotion to lieutenant.  From all accounts, Levinsohn also excelled at her job as an advanced emergency medical technician with Care Ambulance, the Ledger-Enquirer reported. Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan told the newspaper Levinsohn had been with the service for 12 years.  Bryan said her slaying came as a shock to those she worked with. “She was very dedicated to her job. It’s a hard job, both physically and mentally hard. She took it in stride, never showed any kind of negative mood towards one of the patients that she was transporting,” Bryan said. “She was always there to ease the patient’s pain and suffering, and she was just the kind of person you would want to see come to the scene to be with you.” He said Levinsohn was also a friendly face for first responders, who were often exposed to horrific situations.  “In our line of business, me as a coroner and her as an EMT, we see a lot, car accident victims, gunshot victims, stabbing victims, sick people,” Bryan said. “(Levinsohn) was a very emotionally stable person. She kept a level head the whole time, and I praised her for that quite often.” The coroner said he was taking extra care that Levinsohn’s body was treated with respect as her mother, Wylma Levinsohn, traveled home from Israel to see about burying her daughter, who friends described as her best friend.  According to Kelly Levinsohn’s obituary, her funeral was Sunday in Columbus.  Longtime friend Staci Warman described Kelly Levinsohn as a loyal friend with a smile that was “the most contagious part about her.” “She was the best friend anybody really could ever have,” said Warman, who last spoke to Levinsohn in April, the day after Levinsohn’s birthday.  At the time, Levinsohn was on a trip to Aruba with her mother, Warman said.  Kay Witt, who had known Levinsohn since her childhood, also spoke about the tropical vacation, saying that Wylma Levinsohn will be left with a treasured memory.  “They spent a week in Aruba and had an absolute ball, snorkeling, driving around, laying on the beach, eating,” Witt told the Ledger-Enquirer. “All the things that you would do on your fantasy vacation, they did.” Witt said Kelly Levinsohn was also her mother’s “rock” as her father, Bill Levinsohn, battled cancer before his 2017 death.  Besides her mother, Levinsohn is also survived by an older brother, Gary Levinsohn, who “loved her from the minute she was born and was so proud of what she became,” her obituary said. 
  • A police officer died and two others were injured after they responded to a domestic violence call late Sunday at an Alabama mobile home park, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  After an hours-long manhunt, authorities arrested Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, on charges connected to the shooting. The slain officer was identified as William Buechner, WSFA reported. The news station reported the injured officers were identified as Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott. Here are the latest updates: Update 1:30 p.m. EDT May 20: Auburn police Chief Paul Register said early Monday that the two officers injured in Sunday’s shooting were expected to recover. 'This is probably the worst day of my time here,' Register said. 'Words cannot express the loss for this family, our family and this community.' One of the injured officers, identified as K-9 Officer Webb Sistrunk, was being treated Monday at a hospital in Columbus, Georgia, WMBA reported. The other officer, identified as Officer Evan Elliott, was treated for his injuries and released, according to the news network. Authorities on Monday arrested Grady Wayne Wilkes on charges including capital murder, WMBA reported. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey decried the violence. 'This is so tragic and so useless. I'm just heartbroken,' she said Monday during an appearance in Montgomery. Update 12:40 p.m. EDT May 20: Police on Monday identified the slain officer as William Buechner, a 13-year veteran of the Auburn Police Department, WBMA reported. Police Chief Paul Register identified the injured officers as Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott, AL.com reported. Authorities earlier Monday arrested Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, the man suspected of shooting the officers. Officials continue to investigate. Update 8:32 a.m. EDT May 20: Police have apprehended the man accused of fatally shooting one police officer and injuring two others late Sunday at an Auburn mobile home park. According to WVTM reporter Sarah Killian, Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, was captured Monday. >> See the tweet here Original report: According to the Opelika-Auburn News, a white man opened fire just after 10 p.m. Sunday as Auburn police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at a mobile home park. “Responding officers were injured by gunfire and were transported to local hospitals,” Auburn police said in a news release. Although authorities have not release the officers’ names or conditions, the Opelika-Auburn News reported that one died and two more were seriously injured.  Police said the suspect, Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, is on the run. He is described as a 6-foot-4, 215-pound white male with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was wearing body armor, camo clothing and a helmet. Wilkes is believed to be “armed and dangerous,” authorities said. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The parents of an 8-year-old California girl filed a claim against the Bakersfield City School District after a dog visiting the child’s classroom allegedly bit her, cutting open the right side of her face, KGET reported. >> Read more trending news  Leilani Rivera was bitten by the animal, who had been brought to a second-grade glass at Wayside Elementary School on May 9 by a guest reader, KBAK reported.  The reader, Ann Ardell, brought two dogs into the classroom and invited students to pet them, KGET reported. When Leilani went to hug one of the animals the dog bit her, cutting her face and splitting her lip, the television station reported. 'I was crying and it was painful,' Leilani said Thursday at the law office of Chain Cohn Stiles, which is filing the claim against the Bakersfield City School District and Kern County’s superintendent of schools.  Leilani was taken to a hospital, where she underwent two hours of facial reconstructive surgery, KBAK reported. Bakersfield police spokesman Sgt. Nathan McCauley said owner Ann Ardell’s dog, which was either a chow-chow or Akita, was quarantined by animal control and released May 11, KGET reported. The incident did not appear to be intentional on the part of Ardell, McCauley told the television station. The school district issued a written statement, saying school officials immediately sought medical attention for Leilani and began an investigation, KGET reported. Since then, the school district said that due to pending litigation, it had been advised by legal counsel not to comment further, the television station reported. The claim is designated as 'unlimited,' meaning exceeding $25,000, KGET reported.
  • A man who broke into a home in Houston early Sunday died after he was shot several times by the man who found him in his teenage daughter’s bedroom, according to police and multiple reports.  >> Read more trending news Police said they were called around 2:40 a.m. Sunday to respond to a shooting at a home on North Bellaire Estates Drive. The homeowner told police he found an armed man in his 13-year-old daughter’s upstairs bedroom after a break-in. The homeowner said he wrestled the gun away from the burglar before firing it multiple times, striking the intruder, according to authorities and the Houston Chronicle. Police said the burglar, who was not identified, broke into the home through a downstairs window and walked up the stairs to get to the girl’s bedroom. Four children between the ages of 4 13 and 4 were home at the time of the incident, officials said. Detective Blake Roberts told reporters a neighbor helped get the kids out of the home after the shooting. “They did observe the suspect downstairs in the residence, stabbing himself … (with) a kitchen knife,” Roberts said, according to KPRC-TV. Authorities took the injured intruder to Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. It was not immediately clear why the home was targeted. 'This appears to be random,' Roberts said. “Of course, it's still under investigation. We still have a lot of research to do on the male that broke into the house as far as his criminal history, his mental history and anything we can find in order to determine what would be the motive for this.”