CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – When Democrat Stacey Abrams announced her candidacy in the race for Georgia governor, she setup a potential rematch of the 2018 election, where she lost to Republican Brian Kemp.
Notably, the state went blue in the 2020 presidential race, which hadn’t been the case in a presidential election in nearly 30 years. Voters also sent two Democrats to the senate, and many believe Abrams’ work was the reason for the shift.
“We had a very close election in 2018, but we also saw unprecedented enthusiasm. And sadly, in the last three-and-a-half years, we have seen a failure of leadership,” Abrams told News4JAX.
Her long-fought efforts to motivate and mobilize Georgia’s democratic voters have been largely credited with shifting the political landscape in what was believed to be a southern Republican stronghold.
Abrams says she’s running to broaden access to health care, effective education and a healthy job market.
“We need to expand Medicaid so more families have access to health care in the midst of a pandemic, and we need to do the work of making sure our educational system, our jobs -- that what we have in Georgia is right for the people of Georgia,” she said.
Opponents are coming out strong against Abrams, with Republican National Committee spokesperson Garrison Douglas writing in a statement: “The RNC is excited to have another opportunity to deliver a crushing blow to Stacey’s political aspirations by, yet again, denying her the keys to the Governor’s mansion come November 2022.”
In January, a political organization called Stop Stacey was specifically setup to fight Abrams’ campaign.
News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney said the Georgia governor’s race will hinge on what issues come to the forefront.
“There will be some stiff headwinds for Democrats in 2022 if it remains as it is now with Republicans arguing or focusing on the big three: inflation, crime and immigration,” Mullaney said. “However, Stacey Abrams will bring a lot of attention to the Georgia race. It’ll be one of the most high profile in the country.”
Mullaney added that Abrams might see a slight advantage due to a skirmish inside the GOP.
Former President Donald Trump has been extremely critical of Gov. Brian Kemp and his administration for not supporting his false claims of election fraud in the state.
Trump has hinted that he’d back a primary challenger to Kemp and sarcastically said of Abrams at a September rally in Georgia: “Of course having her, I think, might be better than having your existing governor, if you want to know what I think. Might very well be better.”
Abrams said she’s tuning out the other side.
“I’m not interested in the internecine fights of the Republican Party. I’m interested in improving the lives of Georgians. We’re in the midst of a pandemic that is still hurting so many families,” Abrams said. “We’re in the midst of a time when we see opportunity, but not everyone knows how to reach it. And we are watching communities fall apart because they’re not getting the leadership they deserve from our governor.”
If elected, Abrams would be America’s first Black female governor.