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The Latest: Fire alarm interrupts Georgia governor’s debate

This combination of May 20, 2018, file photos shows Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp in Atlanta. The final stretch of the hotly contested Georgia governor's race is being consumed by a bitter political battle over access to the polls. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, says that Democrat Stacey Abrams is fighting for immigrants without legal status to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election. Abrams' campaign says that's untrue and Kemp is trying to deflect from his own record of making it harder for legal citizens to vote. (AP Photos/John Amis, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the first debate in the Georgia governor’s race (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

A fire alarm interrupted the debate between Georgia’s gubernatorial candidates, causing the event to come to a brief halt.

Libertarian candidate Ted Metz was in the middle of answering a question Tuesday night when the alarm went off inside the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio in Atlanta. The debate was stopped and the television feed was briefly pulled while the noise could be investigated.

The debate between Metz, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp resumed less than five minutes later.

It’s unclear what caused the alarm. The rest of the event was uninterrupted.

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7:55 p.m.

In the first debate of their race for Georgia governor, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp continued to spar over claims of voter suppression and people who are in the country illegally being encouraged to cast ballots.

Abrams said that Kemp’s record as Georgia’s secretary of state “causes great concern” and pointed to the release of voter data under Kemp’s watch and the state’s “exact match” voter registration system. She said Kemp has made it harder for legal citizens to cast ballots.

Kemp said those characterizations were “totally untrue.” He fired back, citing a recent video clip in which Abrams seems to say that “undocumented” immigrants were part of her coalition.

“Why are you encouraging people to break the law to vote for you?” Kemp asked.

Abrams said that Kemp was twisting her words and her record of making it easier for legal citizens to vote.

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6:15 a.m.

The candidates in a neck-and-neck battle for Georgia governor are set to meet in their first debate Tuesday evening in Atlanta.

Republican Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, faces Democratic former state House minority leader Stacey Abrams. Libertarian candidate Ted Metz also is participating.

Abrams is vying to be the first black female governor of any state. Kemp is trying to maintain the governor’s mansion for Republicans.

The race is being watched nationally as a barometer for the Democrats’ success in the Nov. 6 elections.

Kemp has portrayed Abrams as “too extreme for Georgia” and rails against funding she gets “California and New York.”

Abrams has painted Kemp as an incompetent chief elections officer who has been intent on suppressing minority voters.

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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