Stacey Abrams’ second Georgia gubernatorial candidacy faces new tests
ATLANTA – Stacey Abrams announced a long-awaited second bid for governor of Georgia this week, but with Democrats facing a sour national environment and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp facing challenges within his own party, the 2022 campaign will be different from 2018.
Abrams’ narrow loss, evidenced by her claims that Kemp used her previous post as secretary of state to unfairly push back voters, propelled her to national stardom in a year when Democrats across the country took off. took advantage of the unpopularity of then President Donald Trump.
Abrams’ claim that Georgia could be drawn into the Democratic column by focusing on registering and mobilizing infrequent Democratic-leaning voters was validated in 2020, when Joe Biden won Georgia by about 12,000 votes and in 2021, when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won the second election. hand over control of the US Senate to the Democrats.
But the political tide appears to be heading against Biden and other Democrats, with low approval ratings in the polls and losses in the Virginia election.
“The environment for Democrats is miserable,” said Brian Robinson, who advises Republican candidates in Georgia. “These are terrible dynamics for Stacey Abrams, and she wants to be president, not governor. If she loses twice, she’s toast. She takes a bet – a big bet.
Georgian voters who might change their minds are mostly college-educated commuters. But Democrats argue that most Georgian voters are stuck in their partisan preferences, and the key is to get you to vote. Abrams and his supporters argue that awareness and focus on the issues will be more important than national headwinds.
“What I’ve seen in 2020 and 2021 is that when people are contacted, when we talk to them and meet them where they are, they will vote and they will participate,” Abrams told WXIA-TV Thursday.
Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, a voter mobilization group founded by Abrams, highlighted the gains of black and more liberal candidates in some Georgia municipal elections this year, although more conservative candidates have prevailed in some suburbs from Atlanta. These elections are non-partisan, although party affiliations are often widely known.
“The truth,” said Ufot, “is that the election proved that ‘Virginia is not Georgia’.
Part of the Democrats’ case is that Georgia’s population growth is being driven by non-white residents, which brings the state on the verge of becoming predominantly non-white in the 2020 census. Part of it is a story of African-American growth, but also driven by a rapid increase in residents of Latin and Asian descent.
“What’s different is that Georgia is on a demographic and partisan trajectory that over the past 10 years has pushed the state towards Democrats,” Robinson said.
But Republicans will also try to maximize their participation, especially among white residents of urban and rural areas, and Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie has said a Democratic advantage is uncertain in Georgia.
“There will be times when Republicans win the election and Democrats win the election,” she said.
Gillespie said it was inevitable that Georgia’s governor race would be “nationalized due to the polarized moment we find ourselves in politically”.
Abrams wants to shine the spotlight on Kemp’s case, arguing his inability to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults and his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions prove he does not have the best interests of Georgians at heart .
“We have a current governor who has let down the people of Georgia, who, as the pandemic rages, has left too many communities behind, that he seems to ignore the real pain that plagues families and regions across the country. State, and that he seems to be focusing on those who agree with him, ”Abrams told WXIA-TV.
But Kemp is more than ready to fight on this ground, betting that his track record on COVID-19, low unemployment and large salary increases for teachers will woo the voters he needs.
“That’s what we’re going to remind people of, it’s that record,” Kemp told reporters Thursday. “This is what I’m going to run on.”
Unlike 2018, Abrams has no overt opposition and is expected to run for the Democratic nomination in a May primary. But Kemp is under siege by Trump and his supporters who believe the governor hasn’t done enough to undo Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia. Republican Vernon Jones is already among those who challenge Kemp, but he faces the more serious threat that former Republican Senator David Perdue could enter the race.
Kemp and his supporters are making it clear that they will fight Perdue if necessary and that a bitter primary could pave the way for Abrams to win.
“So whoever wants to race you have to ask them why, why are they going to do this? Kemp said Thursday. “Don’t they like how great our economy is? “
Democrats are eagerly hoping the Republican Party cannot heal its wounds over Trump’s baseless claims that he was cheated of Georgia’s electoral votes.
“I don’t know what their mess will be,” said Abrams spokesperson Seth Bringman. “I know our side is going to be unified, and I know that matters.”
For Kemp, however, Abrams’ entry is a chance to call the GOP to his side.
“I think it’s a rallying point for Republicans because we know it’s just not the Georgia radicals we’re going to be facing,” Kemp said. “It will be the Hollywood crowd and everyone is going to be flooding the money here.”
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