ATLANTA (AP) — As Republican candidates for Georgia governor face seven more weeks of a bruising runoff battle, even the lengthy runoff itself has become contentious.

The two surviving GOP candidates, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, are pointing fingers at each other over the prolonged schedule. Meanwhile Democrat Stacey Abrams, who was quickly endorsed by her primary opponent Stacey Evans, is busy working to unify her party and making a pitch to general election voters.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia runoffs take nine weeks because federal law requires that absentee ballots be sent to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before a federal election. A federal judge ruled in 2013 that Georgia was violating this requirement by holding runoffs just three weeks after initial elections, not giving enough time to overseas voters. That led to an overhaul of Georgia's election calendar.

Runoff elections will be held on July 24, nine weeks after the initial primaries.

Cagle went after Kemp over the issue, whose office oversaw the change.

"For all the voters horrified at the thought of nine more weeks of politics, you can thank Brian Kemp's office for bungling the federal court case that forced these long runoffs on the state," said Cagle, according to the newspaper.

Kemp shot back, pointing to the consensus among Republican leadership around the change.

"It's no surprise that career politician Casey Cagle is attacking the run-off calendar championed by Gov. Deal," Kemp said. "The more people see of Cagle, the less they like. His quarter century in politics ends in nine weeks."

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Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com