This army, anchored in Metro Atlanta and in smaller pockets of mostly black cities and counties, helped ensure former Vice President Joe Biden pushed several thousand votes in front of President Trump in the state this week. Now the Democrats are on the verge of realizing a long-cherished dream: to turn around Georgia, which has not voted for a candidate for this party’s presidency since 1992.
That optimism gives the party further hope that its Senate candidates have a chance at two fights Runoff elections expected to unfold in January.
The 46-year-old Abrams, who became the first black woman to win a nomination for governor of the big party, was greeted flatly by Democratic leaders and activists on social media and elsewhere on Friday after Biden overtook Trump on the Georgia-counted ballot. The state continues to count overseas preliminary and military votes and is planning a recount.
The awards often mentioned the overall work of black women, who are among the most dedicated and active sections of the democratic electorate – both as voters and as activists like Abrams, who register voters, put them to vote, and increasingly run for office .
During the governor’s race in 2018, Abrams criticized Kemp for refusing to step down as the secretary of state, whose post oversees the elections, while he ran for governor. She also called him the “architect of voter suppression”.
When the competition ended 55,000 votes behind Abrams, she refused to admit Kemp – a decision that Conservatives and Republicans have criticized. Instead, she filed a lawsuit against the state for “gross negligence” in the administration of the elections and formed a faction called Fair Fight Action, which focused on fighting restrictive laws and educating people on how to protect their voting rights.
Abrams said it was important not to move away from 1.9 million voters who supported their candidacy, including many new voters or those who failed to vote in the last election because they didn’t think it would make a difference .
National party leaders campaigned heavily to run for the Senate that year, and Biden looked at her in his search for a runner-up. She became a sought-after speaker at political and thematic conferences, on news broadcasts, and on late-night talk shows. She was alarmed that the Republican Party had attacked the rights of young, liberal and multiracial voters. Fair Fight Action raised tens of millions of dollars to fund voter education and protection initiatives in battlefield nations across the country. Abrams has announced that she will run for office again, and political observers expect she will make another bid for governor in 2022.
Abrams posted one Friday morning Tweet Thanks to organizations and activists who have also worked to increase the number and participation of liberal voters. Dozens responded with praise for Abrams, including Hillary Clinton, actress Viola Davis, and basketball star LeBron James.
Abrams’ spokesman said she received no further comment on Friday, but in her remarks to the Frontline, a coalition of liberal activists on Wednesday, she spoke of her approach to change, which is based on hard work, patience and catching up after setbacks.
“What matters is that we tried and made progress. We did that in Georgia. Choice after choice, year after year as people compared us to Lucy and soccer to Charlie Brown. Why bother because it will never happen? “Said Abrams. “Well, we made it happen, and we can do it in this country, we can do it in any church, and we can do it on any issue because we’re not going to stop. We won’t give in, we won’t give up, but more importantly, we will dream bigger than they think our imaginations can contain. “
Since 2018, according to Abrams, 800,000 new voters have been added to the Georgian voting lists, of whom 49 percent are under 30 and 45 percent are colored. Both groups tend to vote democratically.
On Friday, Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff hosted a rally praising Abrams for his leading efforts to get registration and turnout – without which Ossoff would not run into a runoff against Republican Senator David Perdue. Georgia’s other Republican Senator, Kelly Loeffler, faces Democrat Raphael Warnock, who was the best voter in a special election, also held on Tuesday, in a separate runoff election. Abrams has said she will work to elect both Democrats.
“We see now that change has come to Georgia and Georgia is part of the change that is coming to America,” Ossoff said. Abrams and her co-organizers took advantage of the state’s changing demographics and turned Georgia into one of the most competitive battlefield states in the country.
“Georgia has become younger and more diverse every day over the past decade,” said Ossoff. “The effort that has been made to register voters and empower voters is unmatched across the country.”
Lauren Groh-Wargo, who led Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign and is now the executive director of Fair Fight, said it wasn’t just demographics that put Georgia within reach for Democrats. “I’m sure you’ve heard Stacey say, ‘Demography is not fate, it’s just an opportunity.’ “People of color, young people, poor people, and people in far-flung rural communities are often overlooked and courted, just like white voters.
“Georgia really is the tip of the spear. It’s what’s happening to our country in terms of demographics, ”Groh-Wargo said in an interview a week before election day. “Overall, any party that builds the multicultural, multiethnic coalition will be the party that will rise in Georgia.”
Stefanie Brown James, co-founder of The Collective, a political action committee to vote for liberal black candidates, was one of the first to support Abrams when she began putting together her gubernatorial campaign. She said she respects Abrams’ roots as an organizer and a legislator.
“Stacey really is the standard bearer when it comes to what a leader looks like. I think, you [gubernatorial] run was also able to really show many people, especially black women, that you can serve your community and run for office. Some of the best public servants are those who work for the PTA or have been a community organizer or school teacher. “
“I’m so happy to see that she’s getting her flowers now. I’m so used to seeing the pictures of people on all social media because they died. “But images of Abrams celebrate their political leadership. “Yes, give his wife her flowers now and help her keep building.”
Deborah Scott, who has worked to register voters and mobilize them through the Black Women’s Roundtable, a national civic engagement group, said many of Abrams’ supporters thought she had been cheated of governorship. Abrams critics say it reinforced that impression, and some have used it to defend Trump’s refusal to say that if Biden wins, he will give way.
But Scott said the obstacles Abrams and voters faced in the election are a reminder of Georgia’s racist history of slavery and the Jim Crow segregation that openly refused to allow blacks to vote.
“It made people realize that this would still happen in 2020,” she said. “Stacey was very brave. She wasn’t sitting on the sidelines. Instead, she stepped in and said, “This will never happen again.” I think it got people going. “
Scott, who is also the executive director of a group called Georgia Stand-Up, said dozens of social change groups have started working together to educate and motivate residents to more actively choose and focus on issues that are relevant to theirs Are important in everyday life. She also said young people had become more engaged as a result of protests against racial justice over the summer. All of these factors converged to create a climate for change, Scott said.
And even if the Democrats don’t turn the state around this time, Scott said, “I can’t say we didn’t try.”
Thebault reported from Atlanta.