Abrams Launches 2nd Bid for GA Governor12/02 06:15
ATLANTA (AP) -- Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and leading voting
rights activist, said Wednesday that she will launch another campaign to become
the nation's first Black woman governor.
Without serious competition in a Democratic primary, the announcement could
set up a rematch between Abrams and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Their
2018 contest was one of the most narrowly decided races for governor that year
and was dominated by allegations of voter suppression, which Kemp denied.
Yet Abrams' strong showing convinced national Democrats that Georgia should
no longer be written off as a GOP stronghold. Her performance and subsequent
organization convinced Joe Biden to invest heavily in the state in 2020, and he
became the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture it since 1992.
The party later won a narrow Senate majority after victories in two Georgia
The 2022 governor's race will test whether those gains were a one-time
phenomenon driven by discomfort with then-President Donald Trump or marked the
beginning of a more consequential political shift in a rapidly growing and
diversifying South. The Democratic loss in the Virginia governor's election
could raise questions about whether Abrams' straightforwardly liberal approach
can be effective in a national environment currently trending against the
In a video announcing her candidacy, Abrams said "opportunity and success in
Georgia shouldn't be determined by background or access to power."
Abrams said she would provide "leadership that knows how to do the job,
leadership that doesn't take credit without also taking responsibility,
leadership that understands the true pain that folks are feeling and has real
plans. That's the job of governor, to fight for one Georgia, our Georgia."
Kemp said in a statement that Abrams was a on a "never-ending campaign for
power" in an attempt to become president, linking her to what he said was the
"failed Biden agenda."
"Her far-left agenda of open borders, gun confiscation, high taxes, and
anti-law enforcement policies don't reflect who we are as Georgians," Kemp said.
In a state where Democrats often sought -- and failed -- to win power by
relying on Black voters and appealing to older white moderates, Abrams ran in
2018 as an unapologetic progressive. The 47-year-old Abrams embraced expanding
Medicaid access, something a series of Republican governors have refused to do,
and supported abortion rights.
Georgia remains narrowly divided, and voters often reject the president's
party in the next election. But in abandoning nods at centrism, Abrams insists
Democrats can attract new voters, including transplants to the booming Atlanta
area, Black voters who hadn't participated in previous elections and younger,
more liberal white voters.
Although Kemp defeated her by 1.4 percentage points, Abrams won 778,000 more
votes than the previous Democrat to run for governor.
Abrams was defiant in the face of the 2018 loss, acknowledging Kemp as the
victor but refusing to concede the race, citing "gross mismanagement" in his
role as secretary of state overseeing the election. She accused Kemp of using
his office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an
"exact match" policy for checking voters' identities that left registrations in
limbo and otherwise tilt the outcome in his favor.
Kemp has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
After the election, Abrams started Fair Fight, an organizing group that has
raised more than $100 million and built a statewide political operation that
registered hundreds of thousands of new voters in Georgia. The state saw
record-breaking turnout in the 2020 presidential race and January Senate runoff
Now, Abrams and Kemp look like they may face a rematch in a new political
climate. For one, Kemp faces opposition from Trump and his most loyal GOP
supporters for not supporting the former president's baseless argument that he
was cheated out of reelection through massive voter fraud, including in
Georgia. Election officials conducted three recounts in the state, each of
which affirmed Biden's victory.
Trump, who campaigned for Kemp in 2018, is now one of the governor's most
vocal critics. The former president held a rally in the state in September,
pointedly inviting former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp and
sarcastically suggesting to the crowd that he would prefer Abrams to the
"I'll beat her again, but it will be hard to do with Brian Kemp, because the
MAGA base will just not vote for him ...," Trump said in statement. "But some
good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and
some good Republican will WIN!"
Since the rally, Perdue has privately consulted with leading Republicans
about a possible bid and suggested in a radio interview last month that "a lot
of people feel like that people in power ... caved in to a lot of things back
in 2020 that didn't have to be done," a reference to Kemp's refusal to overturn
Biden's Georgia victory.
Kemp's disavowal of problems in Georgia's election results did not stop him
from pushing through restrictive changes to voting laws in response to Trump's
2020 national defeat. Many Democrats are worried that Georgia's new law will
erode Democratic chances. Others hope the new law will invigorate supporters
and make them more determined to vote.
Abrams has used voting concerns to mobilize Democrats, telling The
Associated Press in April that "Republicans are gaming the system because
they're afraid of losing an election."
Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to use Abrams to galvanize their voters.
Earlier this year, Kemp allies preemptively formed a group called Stop Stacey,
aimed specifically at stopping her from winning the governorship in 2022.
Abrams faces vulnerabilities on several fronts. Her national stature could
raise questions that she's more interested in higher office than in running
Georgia. Republicans tried to blame her for Major League Baseball's decision to
pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta last year over backlash to the
restrictive new voting law, though Abrams repeatedly discouraged boycotts.
Moving forward, she is part of a growing contingent of Black women seeking
Democrat Deirdre DeJear is running for governor in Iowa. In Florida,
Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running for Senate. In North Carolina, former
state Sen. Erica Smith and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri
Beasley are competing in the Democratic primary for Senate.
And in Virginia, Winsome Sears was elected lieutenant governor as a
But none has the national stature of Abrams.
Since 2018, Abrams was named to Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most
influential people. She was featured in Vogue and interviewed on a podcast by
the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. She wrote two books, including a legal
thriller. She conducted a 12-city speaking tour. She considered a run for
president in 2020 before deciding against it. When Biden became the nominee,
she openly lobbied to be his running mate, a position that went to Kamala