Campaign messages attempt to decouple Georgia’s economy from that of the United States as Kemp seeks another term as governor

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MCDONOUGH, Ga. (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday took aim at the “Biden recession” and shifted the blame to Democrat Stacey Abrams, becoming one of many Republicans to seek to weigh in on their rivals with voter concerns about the economy.

How voters view the economy will be key in November’s national election.

Currently, Democratic President Joe Biden has approval ratings at rock bottom, and a second quarter of economic contraction is compounding political woes brought on by high inflation.

But while the argument against Democrats and the economy is straightforward for Republicans, including Georgian Herschel Walker, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, it’s trickier for Kemp.

Extract from the archives (January 2022): Georgia Republicans remain in turbulent state over 2020 election outcome

With other Republican governors seeking re-election, like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kemp must defend his economic record while attacking Biden. Kemp sometimes argues that Georgia’s economy is good and the national economy is bad, even though Georgian voters mostly know only one economy.

“Georgians know our economy is fighting through the Biden-Abrams agenda, despite what’s happening nationally,” Kemp told reporters in the Atlanta suburb of McDonough, arguing that Abrams bears the blame for the “spending sprees and disastrous policies” because she campaigned for Biden and even sought to be his vice president.

Abrams said Thursday that Kemp’s split between Georgia and the national economy is “mathematically and economically impossible,” and that Kemp, who has withstood half a million dollars in spending on attack ads by a PAC linked to Donald Trump, has “terribly underperformed”. by helping people.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks to the media during a press conference in May at the Israel Baptist Church.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“He’s done very well for those who are already well,” Abrams told reporters after a speech in Clayton, North Clayton. “But if you were struggling in Georgia, Brian Kemp did absolutely nothing to help you get ahead.”

The economy is also at the heart of Georgia’s hotly contested Senate race. Warnock presents numerous proposals as intended to combat rising prices, including seeking a suspension of the federal gasoline tax and price limits on insulin. Walker is focused on increasing domestic oil production and attacks Warnock as a rubber stamp for Biden.

See: Trump allies, including Giuliani and Graham, could be compelled to testify in the Georgia election case. Here’s how.

And: Georgia’s 16 fake voters could face criminal charges in election probe

In reality, the economy is “a mixed bag,” said Emory University finance professor Tom Smith. Georgia has record unemployment and more people working than ever before. Smith said the worst of inflation may be over. Gas prices fell more than 50 cents per gallon in Georgia during the month of July, according to AAA.

But Smith said the economy was faltering and a recession may have been going on for months.

See: Weekend reads: Are we in a recession?

In McDonough’s courthouse plaza, some voters said Friday they were weighing the arguments.

Times are good for Keith Sweat, who owns an art gallery and framing business. He said his business “skyrocketed” when the COVID-19 pandemic caused people to focus on sprucing up their homes, and hasn’t slowed down.

“People are suspicious, but they haven’t stopped spending, and that’s unusual,” Sweat said. He said he was not aligned with either party.

Karen Denegall of Ellenwood was helping her sister move her cafe on Friday.

She writes off petrol prices as being caused by the war in Ukraine, but says she feels the pain of high food prices. “What can we do to bring the races down? Denegall asked. A medical worker, she said her own finances were fine, but said she expects some Democrats to switch to Republicans.

On Friday, Kemp again said his decision to quickly remove pandemic restrictions was driving prosperity. He promised other actions in the coming months to help voters.

He has already secured more than $1 billion in tax refunds and has suspended gas tax collection in Georgia since March, forgoing $150 million in monthly tax revenue.

Abrams has asked Kemp to suspend the gas tax through the end of the year and is seeking another round of income tax refunds using billions in excess state funds. She said Democrats, including Warnock, should get credit for “resources that have flowed into the state” through COVID-19 aid, fattening its coffers and inflating the job market.

Abrams is advocating for a housing plan that she says would improve affordability. She also argues that extending federal-state Medicaid health insurance to all adults would reduce costs for Georgians.

In the Senate race, Walker argues that Warnock shares blame with Biden for every economic ill. “Why didn’t my opponent vote so we can continue to have an economy that’s going to be booming?” Walker said during a recent campaign stop in northern Georgia.

Warnock counters by pointing to his work in Washington which aligns him with “working class Georgians”.

“Look,” he said recently while campaigning in Atlanta, “I’m focused on lowering prices for ordinary people.”

Although Warnock does not openly embrace Biden, he touts the US bailout. Biden’s massive pandemic spending bill passed without a Republican vote and included a tax cut for low-income workers.

“If you’re going to give a tax cut – and I believe in tax cuts – you’ve got to give a tax cut to those who really need it,” Warnock said.

He pushed his work on the so-called CHIPS bill which passed the Senate this week with 17 Republican votes. The plan, pending in the House, would revive microchip production in the United States, with Warnock emphasizing benefits for Georgian companies.

See: Chipmaker stocks rally as Senate votes to advance US chip infrastructure bill

Warnock also highlights Georgia’s plans for a sweeping infrastructure plan, proposals to lower insulin costs for diabetics and its call to suspend the federal gas tax. Warnock unveiled the gas tax proposal in February, ahead of other Democrats, including Biden. In another move showing a fault line between him and the White House, Warnock points out that he is “pushing” Biden to be more aggressive in writing off student loan debt. The president said he expected to make a decision on that aid in August.

Denegall said she was listening but was undecided at the moment. “I have until November to see how it goes,” she said.

MarketWatch contributed.

Extract from the archives (April 2022): Perdue casts a spell with Trump’s stolen election claim as he seeks to close primary gap between Republican governor in Georgia and incumbent Kemp

And (May 2022): Georgia Governor Brian Kemp easily beats Perdue in GOP primary, will face Democrat Stacey Abrams

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