Voting rights organizer and former state legislator Stacey Abrams is gearing up for a busy 2022 full of heavy campaigning to become Georgia’s next governor. She says race will be part of the campaign conversation, but she plans to “leverage race as a competitive edge” against her Republican opponent.
Abrams could become the country’s first Black woman governor if she wins next November, but the playing field has shifted since her 2018 gubernatorial race against current Gov. Brian Kemp.
In March Georgia’s Republican-led Legislature passed Senate Bill 2020, which places restrictions on absentee voting, and three months later the Republican Secretary of State purged nearly 102,000 voters from the state voter rolls. Abrams hopes by educating Democratic voters of the new voting rules she can generate enough support from a racially diverse coalition of voters and overcome restrictive voting laws.
“We saw a surge in participation, and, unfortunately, in 2021 in response to a tremendous turnout among voters we saw this retrenchment and the passage of onerous legislation, but what we know is Georgia voters understand their power now, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they understand the laws and we continue to fight against rules that seek to suppress their voices,” Abrams said.
Since her 2018 loss against Gov. Kemp by a mere 55,000 votes, Abrams has made voting rights her signature issue and pushed for federal voting legislation. Amid infighting among congressional Democrats, Abrams still has faith voting rights can move forward even though West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has proved to be a roadblock for Democrats.
“Senator Manchin has actually been a strong partner in moving voting rights forward, it was under his leadership that we were able to craft the Freedom to Vote Act, it’s how we still have conversations happening of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement,” Abrams said.
Abrams plans to focus on several key issues impacting Georgia’s Black and brown communities and level the playing field when economic opportunities arise.
“We know in this economic recovery that they like to tout here in Georgia, Black and Latino workers have been left behind. We know that when small business dollars were being dispersed, and as we see new opportunities come to Georgia they are not reaching out communities of color,” the Democrat said.
“We may be a good place to do business, but we are number 40 in income inequality, we are number 37 in poverty and we’re near the top in maternal mortality and we are number one for women of color and for Black women to die giving birth or within a year of giving birth, we are a state that is in crisis,” Abrams said of challenges facing Black and brown communities in Georgia.
Some of Abrams’ critics question if she could be an effective governor if she wins the election if the state legislature remains in Republican control. Abrams touts her years of experience in the state Legislature to refute any doubters of her ability to get things done with the opposing party.
“I served in the Legislature for 11 years, seven of those years as the minority leader, and during my tenure I was very effective. I recognize to get most good things done you have to be able to work with both sides of the aisle and I’m also very familiar with the executive responsibilities and the executive authority of the governor.”
Abrams said she is staying out of the fray when it comes to the horde of Republicans running for governor, which includes Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
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