In a debate on Sunday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams focused on crime, guns, and public safety, according to Politico. Abrams blamed the trend of increased violent crimes on Kemp, saying, “I would encourage people to indeed look at the governor’s record. Under his four years, violent crime has gone up, gun violence has gone up. This is a statewide challenge and we have a governor who’s only focusing on parts of the issue.” Kemp linked Abrams to the now politically toxic “defund the police” movement — with Abrams countering that he was “lying” — and cited his office’s efforts to partner with local law enforcement agencies to tackle gun violence, gang violence, street racing, and other crimes. Kemp repeatedly sought to convince viewers that Abrams was looking to defund the police, citing a 2020 cable news interview in which Abrams said she was in favor of reallocating some resources from police officers to other areas.
Kemp reiterated that Abrams is on the board of a non-profit organization that does not oppose to the “defund the police” movement. “I believe in public safety. I did not say and nor do I believe in defunding police,” Abrams countered. “He is lying again. And I’ve never said that I believe in defunding the police. I believe in public safety and accountability. And I would have you look at my record, 11 years in the state legislature.” Abrams argued that a new gun law signed by Kemp, which makes it easier to carry a concealed weapon in Georgia, was responsible for losing Atlanta's opportunity to host the Midtown Music Festival because of public safety concerns. Kemp countered that other large events have been held in Atlanta since the law was passed, highlighting that the Democratic National Committee is currently scouting out Atlanta to host the 2024 convention. “If things are so bad, why would that be the case?” Kemp asked.