Trump-backed candidate Kemp wins GOP runoff for Georgia governor

Image: Brian Kemp
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp talks to voters during a rally in Augusta, Ga, on July 23, 2018 as he continues his campaign for Georgia governor, a day before the Republican runoff election against his opponent, Georgia's Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle.Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle via AP

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By Associated Press

ATLANTA — Secretary of State Brian Kemp has won a bruising Republican runoff in the race for Georgia governor, leveraging a damning secret recording of his opponent and a late Trump-Pence endorsement.

With Tuesday's win against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Kemp will Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. Abrams could become the country's first black woman governor.

The race will test Democrats' assertion that changing demographics have turned the traditional Republican stronghold into a swing state.

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Cagle's campaign was rocked by a secret recording in which he says he helped pass a "bad public-policy" bill for political gain.

Gov. Nathan Deal and the National Rifle Association supported Cagle. But Kemp was boosted by the president's endorsement.

A well-known figure at the Georgia Capitol, Cagle entered the Republican race as the presumed front-runner.

Kemp, even as a statewide elected official, positioned himself as a "politically incorrect conservative" outsider perpetually battling liberal Democrats.

Both Republicans had tried to align themselves with Trump, while taking hard lines on immigration, guns and social issues.

Cagle had called Trump's decision to back Kemp an "unprecedented act" but said that he would have still supported the president if he were elected.