One of what may be the last shoes to drop in the 2020 Democratic presidential contest fell today as former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams eschewed a presidential run and opted instead for an expanded fight against the voter suppression that may have robbed her of the governorship last year. The New York Times’ Astead Herndon has the story:
“In typical Stacey Abrams fashion, she’s taken a hard look on the best use of her time and talents are,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, a close aide to Ms. Abrams and her former campaign manager in 2018. “And while being a pundit or running for president might have been easier, fighting voter suppression and making sure our nominees have what they need to fight on the ground is what’s most important.”
Ms. Abrams made her decision in recent days, aides said, as she determined she was comfortable with the current crop of Democratic candidates.
The decision by Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, ends months of speculation, some of which was fueled by Ms. Abrams herself. Repeatedly, she has said she believes she is qualified to be in the presidential field, and she has held several private sit-down meetings with other candidates, encouraging them to focus on voter suppression and fair elections as they crisscross the country for votes.
Abrams has now rejected both a presidential and a Senate race in 2020. She has not taken herself out of consideration for a 2020 vice-presidential nomination, though she did spurn an overture to form a preemptive early ticket from Joe Biden’s camp earlier this year. She will undoubtedly be on many candidates’ short list for veep. And the highly charismatic Georgian will certainly remain in the political news, since her immediate plans are to expand her Georgia-based voting-rights effort to 20 states, including three (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) holding gubernatorial elections this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Abrams’s specific plans:
Before a convention hall packed with left-leaning union members, Stacey Abrams unveiled a plan Tuesday to expand her Georgia-based voting-rights group across the nation by training staffers in 20 competitive states to protect against threats of voter suppression.
The program, Fair Fight 2020, is a multimillion-dollar effort to set up “voter protection” programs in a group of mostly battleground states. Abrams told the cheering audience that she will use her “very, very loud voice” through next year to promote the venture.
“My mission is to make sure that no one has to go through in 2020 what we had to go through in 2018,” she told an audience of hundreds at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades convention at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Perhaps Abrams can use her celebrity — and her possible political future, in 2020 or beyond — to challenge the candidates who are in the 2020 field to help in the Fair Fight effort, whether they win the nomination or not.
Georgians, of course, will wonder if Abrams’s new national commitments will interfere with a possible 2022 gubernatorial rematch (definitely a grudge match) with GOP governor Brian Kemp. But since much of her indictment of Kemp involves his and his party’s vote-suppressing record in the state, she may just be helping to keep an unfriendly spotlight on her past, and possibly future, opponent.