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Abrams Launches 2nd Bid for GA Governor12/02 06:15


   ATLANTA (AP) -- Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and leading voting 
rights activist, said Wednesday that she will launch another campaign to become 
the nation's first Black woman governor.

   Without serious competition in a Democratic primary, the announcement could 
set up a rematch between Abrams and incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Their 
2018 contest was one of the most narrowly decided races for governor that year 
and was dominated by allegations of voter suppression, which Kemp denied.

   Yet Abrams' strong showing convinced national Democrats that Georgia should 
no longer be written off as a GOP stronghold. Her performance and subsequent 
organization convinced Joe Biden to invest heavily in the state in 2020, and he 
became the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture it since 1992. 
The party later won a narrow Senate majority after victories in two Georgia 
special elections.

   The 2022 governor's race will test whether those gains were a one-time 
phenomenon driven by discomfort with then-President Donald Trump or marked the 
beginning of a more consequential political shift in a rapidly growing and 
diversifying South. The Democratic loss in the Virginia governor's election 
could raise questions about whether Abrams' straightforwardly liberal approach 
can be effective in a national environment currently trending against the 

   In a video announcing her candidacy, Abrams said "opportunity and success in 
Georgia shouldn't be determined by background or access to power."

   Abrams said she would provide "leadership that knows how to do the job, 
leadership that doesn't take credit without also taking responsibility, 
leadership that understands the true pain that folks are feeling and has real 
plans. That's the job of governor, to fight for one Georgia, our Georgia."

   Kemp said in a statement that Abrams was a on a "never-ending campaign for 
power" in an attempt to become president, linking her to what he said was the 
"failed Biden agenda."

   "Her far-left agenda of open borders, gun confiscation, high taxes, and 
anti-law enforcement policies don't reflect who we are as Georgians," Kemp said.

   In a state where Democrats often sought -- and failed -- to win power by 
relying on Black voters and appealing to older white moderates, Abrams ran in 
2018 as an unapologetic progressive. The 47-year-old Abrams embraced expanding 
Medicaid access, something a series of Republican governors have refused to do, 
and supported abortion rights.

   Georgia remains narrowly divided, and voters often reject the president's 
party in the next election. But in abandoning nods at centrism, Abrams insists 
Democrats can attract new voters, including transplants to the booming Atlanta 
area, Black voters who hadn't participated in previous elections and younger, 
more liberal white voters.

   Although Kemp defeated her by 1.4 percentage points, Abrams won 778,000 more 
votes than the previous Democrat to run for governor.

   Abrams was defiant in the face of the 2018 loss, acknowledging Kemp as the 
victor but refusing to concede the race, citing "gross mismanagement" in his 
role as secretary of state overseeing the election. She accused Kemp of using 
his office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an 
"exact match" policy for checking voters' identities that left registrations in 
limbo and otherwise tilt the outcome in his favor.

   Kemp has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

   After the election, Abrams started Fair Fight, an organizing group that has 
raised more than $100 million and built a statewide political operation that 
registered hundreds of thousands of new voters in Georgia. The state saw 
record-breaking turnout in the 2020 presidential race and January Senate runoff 

   Now, Abrams and Kemp look like they may face a rematch in a new political 
climate. For one, Kemp faces opposition from Trump and his most loyal GOP 
supporters for not supporting the former president's baseless argument that he 
was cheated out of reelection through massive voter fraud, including in 
Georgia. Election officials conducted three recounts in the state, each of 
which affirmed Biden's victory.

   Trump, who campaigned for Kemp in 2018, is now one of the governor's most 
vocal critics. The former president held a rally in the state in September, 
pointedly inviting former U.S. Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp and 
sarcastically suggesting to the crowd that he would prefer Abrams to the 
incumbent governor.

   "I'll beat her again, but it will be hard to do with Brian Kemp, because the 
MAGA base will just not vote for him ...," Trump said in statement. "But some 
good Republican will run, and some good Republican will get my endorsement, and 
some good Republican will WIN!"

   Since the rally, Perdue has privately consulted with leading Republicans 
about a possible bid and suggested in a radio interview last month that "a lot 
of people feel like that people in power ... caved in to a lot of things back 
in 2020 that didn't have to be done," a reference to Kemp's refusal to overturn 
Biden's Georgia victory.

   Kemp's disavowal of problems in Georgia's election results did not stop him 
from pushing through restrictive changes to voting laws in response to Trump's 
2020 national defeat. Many Democrats are worried that Georgia's new law will 
erode Democratic chances. Others hope the new law will invigorate supporters 
and make them more determined to vote.

   Abrams has used voting concerns to mobilize Democrats, telling The 
Associated Press in April that "Republicans are gaming the system because 
they're afraid of losing an election."

   Republicans, meanwhile, have tried to use Abrams to galvanize their voters. 
Earlier this year, Kemp allies preemptively formed a group called Stop Stacey, 
aimed specifically at stopping her from winning the governorship in 2022.

   Abrams faces vulnerabilities on several fronts. Her national stature could 
raise questions that she's more interested in higher office than in running 
Georgia. Republicans tried to blame her for Major League Baseball's decision to 
pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta last year over backlash to the 
restrictive new voting law, though Abrams repeatedly discouraged boycotts.

   Moving forward, she is part of a growing contingent of Black women seeking 
statewide office.

   Democrat Deirdre DeJear is running for governor in Iowa. In Florida, 
Democratic Rep. Val Demings is running for Senate. In North Carolina, former 
state Sen. Erica Smith and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri 
Beasley are competing in the Democratic primary for Senate.

   And in Virginia, Winsome Sears was elected lieutenant governor as a 

   But none has the national stature of Abrams.

   Since 2018, Abrams was named to Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most 
influential people. She was featured in Vogue and interviewed on a podcast by 
the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. She wrote two books, including a legal 
thriller. She conducted a 12-city speaking tour. She considered a run for 
president in 2020 before deciding against it. When Biden became the nominee, 
she openly lobbied to be his running mate, a position that went to Kamala 

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