Democrat Stacey Abrams to make renewed run at Georgia governorship | CBC News

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and leading voting rights activist, said Wednesday she’ll launch another campaign to become America’s first Black woman governor.

The announcement sets up a likely 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 Republican 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 special elections in the state.

The 2022 governor’s race will test whether those gains were a one-time phenomenon driven by discomfort with then-U.S. president Donald Trump or marked the beginning of a more consequential political shift in a rapidly growing and diversifying South.

Progressive approach

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. She 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 during the first election of their presidency. But in abandoning nods at centrism, Abrams insists Democrats can attract new voters, including recent transplants to the booming Atlanta area, Black voters who hadn’t participated in previous elections and younger, more liberal white voters.

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 and to pass other measures to tilt the outcome in his favour.

Kemp has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Continued activism

Following the election, Abrams started a new organizing group called Fair Fight, which has raised more than $100 million US and built a statewide political operation that registered hundreds of thousands of new voters. The state saw record-breaking turnout in the 2020 presidential race and January Senate runoff elections.

Abrams and Kemp look likely to face each other in a rematch in a new political climate. For one, Kemp faces opposition from Trump and his most loyal Republican supporters for not supporting the former president’s baseless argument that he was cheated out of re-election 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 Georgia in September, pointedly inviting former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp and sarcastically suggesting he would prefer Abrams to the incumbent governor.

Kemp’s disavowal of problems in Georgia’s election results — and Trump’s animus toward him — did not stop him from pushing through restrictive changes to voting laws in response to Trump’s 2020 national defeat.

Many Democrats are worried Georgia’s new law, which gives the Republican-controlled legislature more control over elections officials, will reverse Abrams’ work fighting voter suppression. Still other Democrats hope the new voting law will invigorate their supporters and make them even more determined to go to the polls.

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