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Democrat Stacey Abrams on Wednesday launched a 2022 bid for governor in Georgia, setting up a potential rematch with GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
“I’m running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power,” the former
Abrams, the former Georgia House Democratic leader who in 2018 made history as the first Black woman gubernatorial nominee of a major political party, narrowly lost to Kemp by less than 55,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast in the Peach State’s 2018 gubernatorial election.
The voting rights advocate announced her candidacy with a campaign video that highlighted her work in Georgia since her defeat to Kemp four years ago. And she emphasized that “opportunity and success in Georgia shouldn’t be determined by your ZIP code, background or access to power.”
The announcement, which was long expected, sets up a potential rematch with Kemp in the one-time solidly red state that’s morphed into a key electoral battleground. President Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Georgia in last year’s election by a razor thin margin, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state in nearly three decades. And the Democrats swept Georgia’s Jan. 5 twin Senate runoffs, giving them the majority in the chamber.
But despite her party’s recent successes in Georgia, which were aided by Abrams, she’ll be running in a difficult political environment for her party, as the Democrats hope to defend their narrow House and Senate majorities. Abrams will be on the top of the Georgia ballot along side Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who narrowly won one of the two Senate runoff contests nearly a year ago and faces reelection next year. Republicans are targeting Warnock, whom they view as one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senates on the ballot in 2022.
Abrams political stature has grown since her 2018 defeat. She gave the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2019, and during the 2020 election was considered as Biden’s running mate.
While Abrams isn’t expected to face any serious competition for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Kemp continues to face the wrath of the former president.
Trump has vowed to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp, to punish his onetime ally for refusing to help the then-president’s efforts last year to overturn the election results in Georgia. The ballots in Georgia were counted three times – the original Election Day count, a mandatory hand recount and a recount requested by the president’s campaign.
Trump refused to concede to Biden and claimed for two months that there was massive voter fraud in Georgia and five other states where Biden narrowly won. Dozens of legal challenges by Trump and his allies were shot down, and then-Attorney General William Barr said his Justice Department had not seen fraud on the kind of scale that could flip the election. Trump has continued to repeatedly attack Kemp for refusing to aid his attempts to reverse Biden’s victory.
The former president is urging former Sen. David Perdue, who was narrowly defeated by now-Democratic Jon Ossoff in last January’s Senate runoffs, to challenge Kemp in a GOP primary. Former state Rep. Vernon Jones – a Democrat turned Republican and major Trump supporter – earlier this year launched a primary challenge against Kemp.
But the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is firmly backing Kemp.
“Over the past four years, Governor Kemp has exhibited courageous leadership for Georgians and guided his state through a turbulent time,” RGA spokesperson Maddie Anderson said. “Stacey Abrams spent her time touring the country in search of fame and fortune. The RGA looks forward to ensuring Abrams is once again soundly defeated.”
The rival Democratic Governors Association (DGA) called Abams a “powerhouse leader.”
“With a historic campaign built on expanding access to health care and creating good-quality jobs, Abrams already came well within striking distance of Brian Kemp in 2018 — before she mobilized millions of Democrats to flip Georgia blue in 2020. Now more than ever, it’s clear Brian Kemp’s days as governor are numbered,” DGA executive director Noam Lee said.