DemDaily: Battleground 2022: Georgia
December 6, 2021
Georgia is once again in the national spotlight with the announcement in the last week of two new major contenders in the 2022 Governors race.
On December 1st, voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams (D) announced that she will be running for Governor in 2022.
Her entrance to the race sets up a potential general election rematch with current Governor Brian Kemp, whom Abrams came within 55,000 votes of defeating in 2018 in the country's highest-profile race.
That rematch may be derailed, however, by the entrance of former Senator David Perdue, who announced today that he will challenge Kemp for the nomination.
The developments solidify Georgia as the top battleground state in 2022, where elections will also be held for a top-targeted US Senate seat, eight other statewide elections, the US House, State Senate and State House.
"I'm running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn't be determined by zip code, background or access to power...That's the job of governor -- to fight for one Georgia, our Georgia." - Stacey Abrams Announcement 12/1/21
Georgia, with its 16 electoral votes, has been a longstanding GOP stronghold, voting for the Republican candidate in the last six presidential elections - until it became the epicenter of the 2020 presidential election.
The Peach State was the last hold out in the final count for the presidential, finally confirming victory for Joe Biden on November 19th, with 49.5% to Trump's 49.2% -- a margin of 11,999 votes.
Seven weeks later, in a runoff election, Georgia delivered victories to Democrats Jon Osoff and Raphael Warnock, ousting both incumbent Republican US Senators and solidifying control of the US Senate for the Democrats.
Their wins were attributed to an unprecedented grassroots organizing effort that invigorated a rapidly growing and diversifying electorate, producing small but steady gains for Democrats that put it in play as a battleground state for the first time in decades.
At the forefront of those efforts was Stacey Abrams (D), whose 2018 gubernatorial bid against Brian Kemp (R) turned out more voters than any Democrat in Georgia history.
That election also shone a light on historic voter disenfranchisement in the state, which boasts some of the nation's strictest voter identification requirements.
Stacey Abrams, a former State House Minority Leader, was the first Black woman to secure a major party gubernatorial nomination in US history and the first woman of any race to do so in the state.
In the 2018 Governor's race, Abrams lost 48.8% to Kemp's 50.2%. The contest was witness to the country's most bitter recount and legal battle following widespread allegations of voter suppression under Kemp, who oversaw most of the process as Secretary of State and disqualified over 1.4 million, predominantly low-income and minority voter registrations during his term.
In her speech ending that campaign, Abrams announced the creation of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights nonprofit organization, that subsequently sued the Secretary of State and state election board in federal court for voter suppression. Their legal actions are ongoing, and in 2019 resulted in the reinstatement of 22,000 illegally purged voters.
In 2019, she announced the formation of Fair Fight 2020, an organization to assist Democrats financially and technically to build voter protection teams in 20 states. Fair Fight PAC collected more than $33 million in 2000, and Abram's collective network of organizations is credited with registering an estimated 800,000 new voters.
An attorney, Abrams is also a successful fiction and nonfiction author, with at least two books making the New York Times' best sellers list.
The 2022 Race
Abrams candidacy is expected to boost both the vote and resources dedicated to the other statewide and down-ballot tickets, which includes the reelection of Senator Raphael Warnock (D), whose seat is key to the Democratic party’s efforts to hold their majority in the Senate.
To her advantage, Abrams is unlikely to be challenged in the May 24, 2022 primary, leaving Republicans to battle it out over the next six months in what promises to be a brutal and expensive GOP primary.
Incumbent Governor Brian Kemp was already under siege by former President Trump and his supporters who believe the Governor didn’t do enough to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia.
The entrance of former US Senator David Perdue, however, who lost his reelection bid to Jon Ossoff in January and has the full support of Trump going into the primary, catapults the contest to ground zero for divisions within the Republican party.
Perdue, who was first elected in 2014 with 52.89% of the vote, previously served as CEO of Reebok, Dollar General, and Pillowtex. He lost the January 5, 2021 runoff election with 49.39% to Ossoff's 50.61% -- a margin of 54,944 votes.
Perdue, who tweeted out his announcement this morning, set the tone for the race at the outset of the video.
"I’m running for Governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is NEVER Governor of Georgia. Make no mistake -- Abrams will smile, lie and cheat to transform Georgia into her radical version of a state that will look more like California or New York." - David Perdue Announcement 12/6/21
Of Kemp, Perdue said, "He has failed all of us and cannot win in November. Instead of protecting our elections, he caved to Abrams and cost us two Senate seats, the Senate majority, and gave Joe Biden free reign."
In the video, Perdue also attacked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who become a target of Trump and his allies after Raffensperger refused to challenge Biden's win in the state.
In response to Perdue's candidacy, Kemp accused Perdue of being the one responsible for Republicans' loss of the US Senate, saying the former senator was running to “soothe his own bruised ego,” after bungling his reelection campaign.
Three other candidates are running for the GOP nomination, including former State Representative Vernon Jones, who was the first state elected Democratic official to endorse President Donald Trump's re-election bid. Jones, who declined to run for reelection to the State House, announced he was switching parties to the GOP at the January 6, 2021 "Unite The Right" rally before the US Capitol insurrection.
DemDaily: Status of the Senate I 11/30/21
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Sources: Washington Post, WSB-TVAtlanta, The Hill, CBSNews