Atlanta — Republican Gov.and his Democratic challenger are once again facing off tonight in their first of two scheduled debates. But the pair have met on the debate stage several times in the past, during their first matchup in the .
The most recentshows Kemp leading 52% to 46%. Early in-person voting began in Georgia Monday, and even those who have already cast their ballots told CBS News they still plan to watch Monday’s debate. Olivia Bonnei, who voted early today in Cobb County, said she’ll be tuning in to see how her candidate, Abrams, does, but she has hopes for both candidates.
“I hope to see Stacey do her usual thing, she’s very articulate, she’s very smart,” Bonnie said. “I’m really hoping it is a debate where the two candidates respect one another, as opposed to trying to interfere with the candidate’s responses to the moderator.”
Sid Welch, who also voted early Monday, will be watching to see if Kemp focuses on his record, as Welch believes he should.
“It’s hard to beat the progress he’s made in four years,” Welch said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Sue Garner, too, has voted, but she’s still hoping to learn more about where each candidate stands.
“I want to see what both of their stances are,” Garner said. “They both have things that I like, but they both have things that I don’t like.”
Kemp plans to focus on his record as governor, according to spokesman Tate Mitchell, and will also emphasize his “plan to build a safer, stronger Georgia,” in contrast with Abrams, whom Mitchell argued is “fighting to keep Georgia locked down, kids barred from the classroom, defund the police and eliminate cash bail.”
Abrams’ campaign declined to talk about her strategy, though in an interview with CBS News last month, she previewed some of the points she’s likely to make Monday night about Kemp.
“With the erosion of voting rights, with the erasure of reproductive rights and the closure of hospitals, all under this current governor, I know that people are animated,” Abrams said. “They know they deserve more.”
Kemp, who also talked with CBS News last month, said he’s running on the economy.
“I’ve done exactly what I’ve told people I would do when I was running in 2018,” Kemp said. “We’ve got a great economy here in the state of Georgia. We’ve been people helping people fight to 40-year high inflation this president caused with policies that Stacey Abrams embraced.”
Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel will also be on the debate stage this evening. The debate is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET and can be livestreamed on the Georgia Public Broadcasting website.