Stacey Abrams captured Georgia voters during her 2018 Governorship election and the hearts of Americans at the same time, and now people eagerly want to know if she will run in the 2020 Presidential election.
Since the age of 17, Abrams has been involved in Georgia politics; first as a typist and then as a speechwriter. A woman of many firsts, Abrams was “the first African American valedictorian in memory at Avondale high school; the first person in her family to buy a house; the first in her family to become a lawyer; and by age 29 she was deputy city attorney in Atlanta. This trend continued when she became the first woman of color to become Minority Leader in the Georgia State House from 2011 to 2017.
Never forgetting her parents struggling to elevate their family out of poverty during her childhood, Stacey’s political work doesn’t simply come from theory or from her well-earned Yale Law Degree – it comes from merging personal, professional, and educational experience into one. Her ability to look at individuals and see the crossroads in which they exist and how public policies can either help or hinder them are some of the characteristics that help her truly connect with constituents at levels that many politicians can’t. She brought the Black feminist theory of Intersectionality into her highly visible and popular campaign as a way to clearly describe the ways in which policy and identity can lead to greater compounded barriers for certain communities. This theory is now being spoken about a the Democratic Presidential debates by Julian Castro.
Her website – StaceyAbrams.com – has an extensive platform plan which includes her former work in each of the sectors listed in her platform and what she planned to do in these sectors if elected Governor of Georgia. However, running for office as a woman and a Black woman is never an easy feat.
Supporters of Stacey Abrams pointed out that her opponent, Brian Kemp, was the Republican candidate and the Secretary of State. This meant he was literally overseeing the very election he was running in. The conflict of interest was blinding but Kemp refused to step down as Secretary of State until the last minute. By the time he had stepped down he was already accused with freezing the voting registrations of mostly Black Democrat voters with numbers into the 53,000. Bustle reported that the allegations didn’t stop there. A year prior, under the direction of Kemp, laws were passed that made it extremely difficult for voter registrations to be counted unless they were exact matches – small punctuation errors included – and mass cancellations of registrations occurred without letting voters knows. “In total, Kemp’s office canceled over 1.4 million voter registrations between 2012 and 2017, which is potentially up to 18 percent of the state’s eligible voting population,” reports Let America Vote.
These laws and stark conflict of interest created extra work for the Stacey Abrams election team. Not only were they tasked with the day to day of running a statewide election, they were now also tasked with fighting for the right to vote for Georgia voters while focusing on the disproportionate disenfranchisement of Black Georgia voters.
Despite Kemp’s arguably successful alleged tactics to suppress Black voters in Georgia, voter’s responded, showed up, lined up for hours, and voted. The election was close with a 55,000 vote gap between the two candidates. In the end the election went to Kemp but it seemed the majority of Democrats in the state of Georgia and the United States were with Abrams. Her campaign teams efforts and the voters of Georgia made her the highest voted Democratic candidate in a statewide Georgia election.
Her experience during the Governorship race shines a much needed light on the tactics that are used to suppress the voting of majority Black communities followed by other communities of color.
What Will Stacey Do Next?
Many started to theorize about what, if any, office Abrams might run for, however being a woman of many impactful firsts, it’s fair to say that Abrams doesn’t rush into things without careful consideration. Earlier this year in April 2019, Abrams announced that she would not run for Georgia State Senate. This was crushing to people who wanted to see her run for State Senate but the disappointment was soon replaced with the excitement of the possibility of her running in the 2020 Presidential race.
In terms of a Presidential bid, Abrams is very clear that second is not an option for her, with her famous line, “you don’t run for second place. If I’m going to enter a Primary I’m going to enter the Primary,” she told the ladies on The View and went on to say that she is still thinking about the possibility of a Presidential run and is open to all options but only after careful consideration.
Her rebuttal to the State of the Union Address continues to excite people on possibility of her running for President, along with her nonstop advocacy and pursuit of fair and just elections through her organization, Fair Fight, leaves her at the forefront of the minds of voters in the United States. According to its website, “Fair Fight advocates for election reform, engages in voter education, and encourages turnout in order to secure the voting rights of all Georgians.” While low voter turnout is often discussed in American political discourse, the subtle and obtuse ways in which voter suppression is exercised is not spoken about as often. Perhaps her name recognition, personal, political, and first hand experience with voter suppression can help make voter suppression just as an important topic as the 2020 Presidential election.
What we know for sure is that Abrams has forever changed the ways in which politics is conducted in the United States, has people thinking about voter suppression, and as Abrams told Politico earlier this year, she could wait until fall — after the initial debates, and potentially after some candidates drop out of the race — to announce her run, saying there were advantages to waiting. And went on to say that, “…September is actually an appropriate date [to announce her final decision].” It seems that in the eyes of many American people Abrams is a contender no matter what she decides.