ATLANTA — Stacey Abrams, who is poised to claim the Democrats’ nomination for governor of Georgia on Tuesday, told 11Alive Monday that her phrasing over the weekend, in which she said Georgia is “the worst state in the country to live,” was “inartful,” but that her point, which she made immediately after she said that, is valid — that Georgia has many infamous “worsts” and she aims to fix them.
The GOP incumbent, Brian Kemp, on Monday tried to shift the focus to other problems that he said he has solved and to accomplishments he said are improving people’s lives.
However, Abrams told 11Alive she has yet to hear Kemp refute her points. She specifically mentioned "the dichotomy between Brian Kemp’s rhetoric and his record, that he talks about how great Georgia is for some, but he refuses to acknowledge how poorly it serves to many other Georgians.”
It was on Saturday when Abrams told a gathering of Democrats in Gwinnett County, “I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live.... When you’re number 48 for mental health, when you’re number one for maternal mortality...then you’re not the number one place to live in the United States.”
In fact, Georgia is at the bottom rankings among all 50 states for access to mental health services, although it has improved slightly, according to the United Way; Georgia is 45th worst, now, not 48th.
And the CDC continues to rank Georgia as having the worst maternal mortality rate of all 50 states.
Governor Kemp, at a rally in Cobb County Monday night with former Vice President Mike Pence, mentioned Abrams by name.
“Well I don’t know about y’all, but I’m glad we’re the number one state in the country for business.” Kemp said. “We are the best state in the country to live, work and raise our families in. And that is why we are in a fight for the soul of our state.”
Kemp has not yet specifically refuted Abrams’ point by point in which she describes Georgia’s low rankings in several life-and-death health categories. But, he is campaigning on a long list of accomplishments in other areas.
He tweeted a thread on Monday, listing some of what he’s done in office for the economy, public safety, and other areas.
Yet, Kemp did not answer Abrams on her other criticisms, such as Georgia being number one among the 50 states in new HIV cases (which is an accurate ranking, according to the CDC.)
On the issue of maternal mortality, Kemp did write on Twitter, “We extended postpartum coverage from 6 to 12 months, and we’ve made large investments to address Georgia’s maternal mortality rate.”
“For almost every issue he could solve,” Abrams said, “he’s done the bare minimum to qualify for reelection, but he’s done nothing to actually solve these problems. He has had four years to address maternal mortality. We were at the top of the list (worst) when he started. And we remain there because he has failed to do his job.... So, I'm happy to stand on my record,” such as in the legislature, and as a private citizen working through her organization, for example, to deliver food to the poor, pay off their medical debts and organize COVID vaccine supplies for medically-underserved communities, as well as to expand voting access across the state.
“As a private citizen,” Abrams said, “I put money into the pockets of our small business owners. And I've done that as a private-sector leader. I'm happy to stand on my record, and I dare him to stand on his.”