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By Dartunorro Clark
Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp’s campaign on Monday said a concession is “long overdue” from Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams, arguing that his lead in the unsettled race is insurmountable.
“Stacey Abrams and her radical backers have moved from desperation to delusion,” said Ryan Mahoney, Kemp’s communications director, in a statement. “On Saturday, military, overseas, and provisional ballots were reported throughout Georgia. The counts are in line with publicly available tracking reports. This is not breaking news and does not change the math. Stacey Abrams lost and her concession is long overdue.”
As of Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET, Kemp leads with 1,976,270 votes, or 50.3 percent. Abrams has 1,918,213 votes, or 48.8 percent, according to NBC News. Under state law, if no candidate gets a majority of votes, a runoff is required.
NBC News has yet to make a call in the race.
The Kemp campaign’s push for a concession comes after the Democratic Party of Georgia and Abrams’ campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court on Sunday challenging rejected votes. The lawsuit, filed against interim Georgia secretary of state Robyn Crittenden and various county election officials, aims to make election officials accept rejected provisional ballots that have incomplete or missing information if they can verify voter information through additional means.
It also challenges the rejection of more than 1,000 absentee ballots for missing or mismatching information, such as birth dates or addresses. Finally, the lawsuit asks a federal judge to delay the certification deadline a day — from Tuesday to Wednesday — to allow more time to fully count the votes.
Abrams’s campaign is hoping that once all the votes are counted, Kemp’s lead will drop below the 50 percent threshold and trigger a Dec. 4 runoff election. If Abrams is able to gain slightly more than 23,700 votes, the race would be pushed into a mandatory recount.
Kemp has claimed that there are not enough outstanding provisional ballots to narrow his lead and force a recount or a December runoff. Kemp’s campaign has said that 21,190 provisional ballots are still outstanding, which is in line with the unofficial numbers reported by the secretary of state’s office.
Kemp, who served as Georgia’s secretary of state until abruptly resigning last Thursday, declared victory shortly after Election Day and began preparing his transition.
Abrams’s campaign has argued that their findings show an extra 5,000 uncounted provisional ballots as of Saturday morning. Abrams has vowed to keep going despite pressure for her to concede, saying “Georgia still has a decision to make.”
“We will continue to fight for each and every eligible vote to be counted because in a democracy, every vote should be valued,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’ campaign manager, said Saturday. “Georgians deserve nothing less.”
Kemp faced charges of attempted voter suppression during the campaign and demands from Democrats that he step aside as Georgia’s chief elections official, which he dismissed.
And on Monday, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Brian Schatz of Hawaii released a joint letter asking the Justice Department’s civil rights division to investigate claims of voter suppression in the race.
“The Department of Justice still has the authority and the obligation to enforce the Voting Rights Act and protect the right to vote,” the senators said in a statement. “In the case of Georgia’s election, the DOJ should ensure that all votes are counted and that voters have a meaningful opportunity to ensure their absentee and provisional ballots are counted; and conduct a thorough investigation into the potential voting rights abuses that have been reported before, during, and after the election.”
The letter specifically takes aim at the state’s “exact match” law, which requires information on voter registration applications to precisely match information on file with the state’s Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. An Associated Press investigation in October found that Kemp’s office had 53,000 voter registration applications pending under the protocol.
Abrams and several civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the practice during the campaign and won a partial victory in October to allow more than 3,000 people whose voter registrations were put on hold over possible citizenship issues to vote.
John Pinto, WWII Navajo Code Talker and longtime New Mexico lawmaker, dies at 94
By Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. — John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation’s longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.
Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto’s death in Gallup on Friday after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.
After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.
“Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Diné warrior,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. “He dedicated his life to helping others.”
Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders. Pinto didn’t start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager.
“At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,” Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. “I guess I did all right.”
Pinto also recalled that his grandparents told of being forced at gunpoint from their land in the 1860s by the U.S. Army in the forced relocation of the Navajo people on foot to southern New Mexico.
After serving as a Code Talker — a group of radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language — Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico’s College of Education.
He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education at 39, and eventually earned his master’s, becoming a teacher and a truancy officer in Gallup.
Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state’s first Native American senators.
An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto’s political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.
Manny Aragon, the state’s one-time Senate president, tells the story of driving to the Statehouse in a January 1977 snowstorm and picking up a middle-aged Navajo man who was hitchhiking in Albuquerque. The hitchhiker was newly elected Sen. Pinto.
“I just thought he was a transient,” Aragon said.
In the Legislature, Pinto advocated for education reform and anti-poverty programs. Receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Pinto recalled going hungry at times as a child while his parents juggled odd jobs and said the experience influenced his work on issues of homelessness as a lawmaker.
Every year, Pinto would sing on the Senate floor the “Potato Song” — a Navajo song about a potato, planted in the spring and visited in the summer until it is harvested. Fellow senators, staff and aides clapped along to Pinto’s rendition.
Lenore Naranjo, the Senate’s chief clerk, says Pinto taught her bits of Navajo language over the decades.
“A beautiful man is all I can say,” Naranjo said.
Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion ban
By Charlie Gile and Dartunorro Clark
A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Mississippi’s fetal heartbeat anti-abortion law from going into effect, saying it infringes on women’s health care rights.
“Here we go again. Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability,” Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his order.
“By banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, SB 226 prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy,” he continued.
The Mississippi ban prohibited abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, or around six weeks, which is before many women might know they are pregnant. Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law in March.
The lawsuit was filed by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization against Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer of Mississippi.
Reeves ruled last year that Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported. Mississippi is appealing that ruling, and is likely to appeal this one, as well.
The judge’s ruling comes as dozens of conservative states across the country have passed or proposed bills that would place strict limitations on abortion. Anti-abortion advocates have said that they hope the bills, which have prompted swift legal challenges, will ultimately lead to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.
Under the Mississippi law, doctors could have their medical licenses revoked if they perform the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Though the law does provide an exception if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, it does not provide an exception in cases of rape or incest.
The Republican governors of Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia have signed similar bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. On Friday, Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike L. Parson signed legislation banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy with an exception for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
Also on Friday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit over Alabama’s near-total abortion ban that makes performing an abortion a felony with little to no exceptions. The law, signed by GOP Gov. Kay Ivey on May 15, is the most restrictive in the nation.
“The Alabama Legislature has been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions, and this extreme abortion ban shows us just how far they’ll go to push their anti-abortion agenda,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney, said in a press release.
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