Popular Democrat and voting-rights activist Stacey Abrams is gearing up for a rematch against Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022 in a reprise of their 2018 gubernatorial election contest that Kemp won by just 54,723 votes.
“What Stacey Abrams will bring into the discussion is integrity, and she’s infinitely more qualified than anybody I’ve heard out there,” said Richard Rose, Atlanta’s NAACP president, who is excited about Abrams’ candidacy.
Rose believes Abrams can improve the lives of the state’s Black and brown communitIes by rooting out laws and policies that disadvantage minorities.
“Less than 3 percent of state contracts go to Black owned businesses now, and we are basically 40 percent of the population, and we’re basically locked out of opportunities,” he said.
Rose says for Abrams to succeed she needs to mobilize another strong voter turnout. “Make Black voters aware of what these votes mean to them, in their everyday lives, because not only do we have to make change in the governorship, but we also have to make a change for the people in the state Legislature,” he said.
In a statement sent to Atlanta Black Star, Abrams says, “Georgia Democrats are riding a wave of momentum,” noting LaRhonda Patrick’s historic election as the middle Georgia city of Warner Robins’ first Black mayor and the election of President Biden and Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in 2020.
She also criticized Gov. Kemp’s failure to expand Medicaid, underfunding education, and his handling of the pandemic.
Kemp, in a statement released Thursday, said of Abrams’ bid for governor, “With Abrams in control, Georgia would have shut down, students would have been barred from classrooms and woke politics would be the law of the land.” He also accuses her of being anti-gun, anti-police and claims she would raise taxes.
Pew Research found Black registered voters in Georgia increased by 130,000 from October 2016 to October 2020. Since 2016, the state registered 520,000 new voters overall, a feat credited partly to Abrams with her Fair Fight organization.
Clark Atlanta University political scientist Tammy Greer urges caution against buying into “inevitability” when it comes to Abrams, noting, “In 2018, Black women did not break 60 percent of voter participation, Black men did not break 50 percent,” said Greer.
Since the 2020 election, Georgia’s secretary of state released a list of nearly 102,000 voters who have been purged from the voter rolls. In March, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 202 which placed restrictions on absentee and early voting.
Greer also stressed the value of the state Legislature and its ability to hinder any progress Abrams could make if she were elected. “When we talk about these restrictions on voting, when we talk about body autonomy, when we talk about policing, we talk about all these things as if the executive has the beginning, end and middle when it comes to these policies, that comes from the legislative branch,” Greer said.
“If you still have a conservative majority in the legislative branch, then your Black woman governor will look impotent because nothing will get done,” Greer said who also referenced former President Barack Obama, who faced similar challenges during his presidency.
Abrams plans to launch a major statewide campaign in the coming months, next year’s election is on Nov. 8.
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