In 2018, Democratic state representative Stacey Abrams ran for governor of Georgia. Her opponent was Brian Kemp, the Republican Secretary of State. Their race was watched by the entire nation. In the end, Abrams lost by only 55,000 votes. Following this loss, Abrams launched Fair Fight Action, a voting rights activism group. On December 1, 2021, Abrams announced that she will once again run for governor of Georgia in 2022. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at this race, and considers the race’s importance.
Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election was important for several reasons. First, had Abrams won, she would have been the first African American governor of Georgia, and the first African American female governor in the nation. Second, the race was incredibly close in a state that has not had a Democratic governor since 2003. And third, the race was controversial because of the fact that the secretary of state oversees the state’s election procedures. Brian Kemp therefore oversaw his own election. This was what inspired Abrams to start Fair Fight Action, which focuses on protecting voting rights and on motivating voters, especially minority voters, to get to the polls.
As the leader of Fair Fight, Abrams helped motivate enough Democratic voters to win Georgia for Biden in 2020. This was the first time in almost thirty years that Georgia voted for a Democratic president. The state also elected two Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Thanks in large part to Abrams’ organizing and hard work, African American voters came through with a record high turnout. In fact, since 2018, Georgia has added nearly 1.3 million new registered voters to its rosters–nearly half of them people of color.
Abrams announced her candidacy in a video posted to social media last week. If Kemp and Abrams win their primary races, the general election would be a rematch from 2018.. But Kemp is facing challenges from within his own party as well. He has been widely criticized among conservatives for failing to support Donald Trump in the 2020 election. It’s possible that he will have a difficult primary battle.
Both Democrats and Republicans will be watching Georgia closely in 2022, and not just because of Abrams. Whether or not Senator Warnock can hang onto his seat in 2022 will be vitally important to whether Democrats can hang onto their slim majority in the Senate. Also, the 2022 election will show whether recent Democratic wins in Georgia were a fluke, or if the state really has shifted back to Democratic candidates.
But many political experts have doubts that Abrams will be able to repeat her earlier successes in 2018 and 2020. That’s because the 2021 elections showed unexpected Republican victories in many places across the country. And Georgia, while trending “blue” now, is hardly a Democratic stronghold. White voters still make up 53 percent of registered voters. Republican candidates are also learning how to do a better job pulling nonwhite voters away from the Democratic party. And a poll taken by Redfield & Wilton Strategies showed that in November 2021, 47 percent of Georgia voters preferred Kemp, while 44 percent supported Abrams.