March 25, 2023

Four years ago, the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary was contested because the party’s old school didn’t believe in Stacey Abrams. She overturned the elders’ choice and ended badly in the general election, establishing herself as the de facto party boss on a new battlefield.

That heralded 2020, when Joe Biden put Georgia in the Democratic presidential column for the first time in 28 years, while Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff took two Senate seats in early 2021, giving Democrats Controlled Capitol Hill.

Now, Abrams and Warnock are at the top of the Democrats’ list together for the first time as Democrats try to replicate their success in a difficult midterm election environment. The result will again help determine Senate control in Washington and whether Republicans continue to dominate Georgia’s state government.

“We’re trying to show everyone across the country that 2020 wasn’t a fluke,” Democratic Party Chair Nikema Williams said ahead of Saturday’s party convention.

However, Williams and other Democrats acknowledge that 2022 will not be a simple repeat of the past two cycles.

Abrams is no longer an emerging giant competing with a lesser-known secretary of state; she is a battle-hardened challenger facing Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, a well-placed incumbent. Warnock is not a political newcomer, but an incumbent senator who must distinguish himself from a relatively unpopular president who once ran for him — a point underlined by Republican candidate Herschel Walker, who is ruthless Criticizing Warnock is a rubber stamp for the White House.

Amid persistent inflation and an uncertain economy, the rest of the Democratic Party must run under the banner of the National Party, which controls Washington. Democrats must restructure their voter voting operations to comply with tighter voting restrictions enacted by Camp and the state’s Republican legislature following a Democratic 2020 victory.

Democrats here say their response is not to escape their record, but to embrace it, while casting Republicans as a “extremist” party that pushes an anachronistic cultural agenda and remains at the mercy of former President Donald Trump.

“The party of Trump is a party of extremism, a party of election deniers, a party of authoritarianism, that says that their opinions about who should win elections matter more than the voters,” said lieutenant governor nominee Charlie Bailey, whose Republican opponent, Burt Jones was one of the fake voters who signed certificates falsely indicating that Trump, not Biden, won their state.

The approach is in line with a national midterm pitch that Biden unveiled at a campaign rally in Maryland on Thursday, in which he placed voters’ choice between Democrats and Trump’s “MAGA campaign” in November, Biden said. This is the main faction of the Republican Party, akin to “semi-fascism.”

Kemp and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffinsburg have won plaudits from moderate voters for opposing Trump’s proposal to overturn the 2020 election. But Abrams and others challenged anyone’s “moderate” label.

Abrams has criticized Kemp for being an “extremist” who signed a concealed-carry law to ease gun restrictions and a near-total abortion ban that prohibits many women from having abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Bee Nguyen, a lawmaker challenging Raffensperger, blasted the secretary of state’s role in reforming the state’s voting process. Nguyen noted that Raffinsburg, a state legislator, has compiled a staunchly conservative record on issues such as abortion and guns. “He’s not a friend of democracy. And he’s not a friend of women,” she said recently on the liberal “Pod Save America” ​​podcast.

In fact, Georgia Democrats agree that the Supreme Court’s decision to remove the constitutional right to abortion, combined with a near-ban in Georgia, is a key issue enough to overcome swing voters’ concerns about the economy.

“I’ll tell you that people care more than anything else about protecting their rights and access to health care,” said attorney general nominee Jen Jordan, a state senator who will support abortion rights as part of her the core of the election. .

Even so, Democrats insist they are not afraid to discuss economic or other issues that Republicans are trying to claim as theirs.

Kemp blasted Abrams as a liberal who wanted to “fund the police.” Abrams pushed back against proposals to increase the wages of many law enforcement and criminal justice personnel. “Brian Camp wants you to be afraid of me,” she said in one of her ads.

Jordan has spoken out about the increase in crime, but dismissed efforts by Republicans to see it as an “Atlanta problem” — a GOP framing that targets white voters outside of cities with diverse and highly Democratic populations.

“It’s not an urban problem or a suburban problem. It’s a Georgia problem, and the people in charge have a lot to answer,” Jordan said.

In the Senate campaign, Warnock has largely avoided Biden, even as he embraced a Democratic legislative victory. Warnock touted a pandemic relief bill and its child tax credit as an important aid for Georgia families. He pointed to the benefits of the long-sought infrastructure package.

The senator acknowledged that gasoline prices and headline inflation had soared, but noted that he called for a moratorium on the federal gas tax before winning a provision in the Democrats’ larger climate and health care bill that would cap insulin prices for Medicare patients. Republican People blocked his efforts to expand the cap to all consumers.

Williams, who is also an Atlanta congresswoman, summed up the two-track argument.

“We Democrats have already contributed at the national level. …Imagine what we can do when we control at the state level,” she said. She added that if Republicans control Congress, “a nationwide abortion ban is on the table,” along with cuts to popular programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The warnings ignore that Biden would certainly veto the measures. But Williams said the point remains: “A lot of things are at stake.”

Every marginal shift among voters counts. In 2018, Kemp overtook Abrams by 55,000 votes out of about 4 million. With 5 million votes, Biden overtook Trump by less than 12,000 votes. About 4.5 million Georgians voted in the simultaneous Senate runoff two months later; Warnock and Ossoff won by 2 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively.

Democrats hope November will have at least as many voters as there will be on January 5, 2021. Georgia needs a majority to win statewide office, and Liberal candidates can draw enough to force a runoff.

With that in mind, Abrams, a black woman from Atlanta who has spent considerable time in rural (predominantly white Georgia) state, saw her 2018 run-up in 2018 compare to Democrats’ performance in previous midterms. Performance has declined. Jordan, who is white, noted that she grew up in a small town in southern Georgia but now represents a Senate district in suburban Atlanta that was once locked by Republicans. Abrams sometimes campaigned with Bailey, a white man with a distinct Southern accent and small-town Georgia ancestry.

“We have a ticket that looks like Georgia,” Abrams often said.

Al Williams, a black state congressman close to Abrams, also praised the ticket. But he put the pressure most directly on women at the top and predicted that in an era with few divided voters, Abrams would have to win the Democratic Party to have a big day.

“Stacy is the wind under the sail,” he said.


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