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Trump-Endorsed Brian Kemp Easily Wins GOP Runoff For Georgia Governor

Georgia Republican gubernatorial runoff candidate Brian Kemp goes on stage to declare victory against Casey Cagle during an election night party, on Tuesday in Athens, Ga.

Georgia's Trump-Pence endorsed Secretary of State Brian Kemp has won a run-off election against fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for the chance to face voters in November to become the state's next governor.

Cagle, who was endorsed by outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal, was the favorite of the state's Republican establishment. He also heavily outspent Kemp, whose embrace of the president's brand of politics paid off.

With 100 percent of the votes counted, Kemp won by 69 percent to Cagle's 30 percent.

Kemp "ran an eyebrow-raising ad that said he could use his own pickup truck to 'round up criminal illegals,'" The Associated Press notes, adding that he "rode a national wave of voter contempt for the establishment in favor of bare-knuckled outsider politics."

The AP says Cagle began to lose ground in June, when a private recording between him and former Gov. Clay Tippens caught Cagle admitting that he helped pass a "bad public policy" bill for political gain. The recording was released by Tippens and exploited by the Kemp campaign.

Just as important, however, was an endorsement tweeted by the president a week before the election in which Trump praised Kemp for being "tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration."

Over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence appeared at a rally in Macon, Ga., to lend his voice to Kemp's candidacy.

Celebrating his victory on Wednesday, Kemp said as governor, he would "unapologetically stand with President Trump to secure our border, deport criminal aliens, crush gangs and ensure a bright and promising future for our families."

Kemp, 55, now faces Democrat Stacey Abrams, who could become the country's first black female governor.

In a tweet Tuesday night, Abrams said: "Tonight I have an opponent: Kemp. The race for #GAGov may change, but our values never will. Service, faith & family guide our vision for GA: Affordable health care. Excellent public schools for every child. An economy that works for all."

Abrams is counting on the changing nature of Georgia's political demographics. As The New York Times notes, "Large swaths of suburban Atlanta swung away from the Republicans in 2016, recoiling from Mr. Trump's divisive and racially tinged appeals. And Mr. Kemp has adopted the same approach, but even more vividly."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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