Credit: Kerri Battles for LBJ School

Gov. Brian Kemp’s first TV ad of the general election campaign fires back at Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams for a statement she made last month that Georgia is “the worst state in the country to live.”

The 30-second ad, released Tuesday, takes exception to Abrams’ comments by ticking off several of Kemp’s accomplishments as governor, including the state’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

“He reopened Georgia first, brought thousands of jobs, and Kemp’s cut taxes to help families deal with [President Joe] Biden’s inflation,” the narrator says. “Brian Kemp kept Georgia the best place to live.”

Abrams made her remarks at a fundraising dinner for Gwinnett County Democrats in response to Kemp frequently citing Georgia’s annual selection as the No.-1 state in which to do business by Site Selection magazine.

Later, Abrams said her comments were aimed at Georgia’s ranking as 48th in the nation in access to mental health care and as the worst state in the country for maternal mortality.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly has acknowledged both as issues to address. Lawmakers passed comprehensive legislation this year aimed at overhauling Georgia’s mental health-care delivery system and approved a bill extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers from six months to a year.

Kemp won the Republican nomination for a second term as governor last month, trouncing former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the GOP primary by a surprisingly large margin. Perdue had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who was angry that the governor refused to go along with Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.

Abrams, who lost to Kemp in 2018 in a close race, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination to take on the governor this November in a rematch.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is Capitol Beat bureau chief.

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