After her narrow 2018 defeat to Republican Gov., Georgia's Stacey Abrams rose to political stardom. Brian Kemp said that the Democrats basically cleared the field for her run for governor.
Abrams' campaign is now underway, and she's now campaigning in a different environment than the one she was in four years ago.
Abrams apologised on CNN Tuesday after she took off her mask to take a picture of masked schoolchildren -- a photo that she had posted on Twitter, but quickly deleted. Republicans heavily criticized the photo for being a hypocritical violation school's mask policy.
Both the Democrats' struggle with pandemic politics , and the backlash highlighted Abrams's struggles. This contrasts to 2018, when Republicans as well as many national media outlets paid less attention to Abrams's first statewide campaign.
Kasim Reed, a Democrat who was once the mayor of Atlanta, stated that "it's going to be a tough race now."
"In 2018, Leader Abrams had an element of surprise. Reed stated that white people believed she didn't have a chance and was on a fools errand. Reed said, "Now that is not the case at ALL and it will not surprise. It will be even more challenging."
Recent polls indicate that the race is basically tied in head-tohead matches against Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue, the leading GOP candidate.
The national environment is dominating the Georgia statewide elections this year. Donald Trump was at the White House in 2018. His low approval ratings have weighed down Republicans. Joe Biden's approval ratings in the state, which are lower than Trump's, is now in the White House.
missed an Atlanta event last month because of an unspecified scheduling conflict. He was speaking on her signature issue, voting rights and access to the ballot. Allies claimed that Abrams was upset by the failure of Biden and Democratic leaders to pass a federal voter rights law. He didn't want to be used for props.
Abrams, who led a unprecedented voter registration effort and turnout effort going into 2018, proved Georgia, once-red, was a winnable state when Kemp defeated her by less than 55,000 votes or 1.4 percentage points. Abrams denied that she had lost and blamed it on the voter suppression efforts Kemp, then secretary of state, led at the time. Trump lost Georgia in 2020, partly due to Abrams' organizing. Perdue and the two Republican U.S. Senators from Georgia lost their special elections months later in 2021.
It was a tough race in 2018. "It was a tough race in 2018." Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Abrams, stated.
The issue of election administration is now more important in this year's election. After the Republicans control the state Assembly, and governor's offices passed Senate Bill202, a broad-ranging law restricting voter participation and giving state legislators more power to over local election officials, the Republicans have taken on the responsibility for the election administration.
This legislative power grab concerned Democrats such as Reed and voting rights groups, who noted that Republican legislators passed this law to respond to Trump's claim that the 2020 election had been stolen. Trump attempted to influence the Republican secretary-of-state in Georgia to get more votes after the election. Numerous recounts, lawsuits, and investigations proved that there was no widespread fraud.
One day after the Republican senators lost their races, a pro Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to try and stop Biden's official recognition of his win as president.
Nse Ufot is the CEO of the New Georgia Project. Abrams used to lead the voting rights group.
She said that "we don't know how aggressive they will be with their best efforts" to limit voting. Her group is registering new voters as well as educating people who have voted in the past about how to navigate the new law.
Despite all these challenges, Ufot or other Democrats see the positive side of countervailing forces.
According to Target Smart models and state data, the electorate has been marginally more Democratic since 2018. The share of white Georgia voters has fallen by around 2 percentage points. Models also reveal that there are more young voters than in 2018, which tend to vote more Democratic.
Abrams has the advantage of not having to raise money in a primary while Kemp and Perdue slash each other in the GOP contest. Abrams has raised $9.2million in the two months since her candidacy was announced. Perdue had $1.1 million and Kemp had $2.5 million.
Trump is another example of intraparty hostilities. His legacy of losing large races in Georgia, and his meddling with gubernatorial primaries and congressional primaries has led to him being a loser.
Tharon Johnson, a leading Democratic strategist in the state, stated that Trump is not on the ballot but still causes a lot of chaos for Republicans.
Cody Hall, a Kemp campaign spokesperson, claimed that Democrats underestimate the Trump effect and don't realize that Republicans are "campaigning more on issues important to voters -- the Economy, Inflation, Covid and Schools -- than Democrats."
Privately, Georgia Democrats are also concerned about this.
"We have a lot more headwinds than we did in 2018, and schools, Covid fatigue, and schools are real problems Stacey and everybody," stated one Democrat who ran statewide in Georgia recently but spoke under the condition that she would not be identified in order to avoid critiquing Abrams' campaign. She really hit the tripwire with her school masking photo. We are losing the swing voters that we need with Covid, masks, and school closings. The fatigue is starting to set in."
Anti-Trump Republican Geoff Duncan said Abrams' "shocking level of ineptitude" was evidence that Abrams' school mask scandal was an indication of how the new dynamics of the campaign cycle had caught her by surprise. As Joe Biden's approval numbers continue to plummet, Abrams will have to do much better.
Some Republicans give credit to Abrams for ignoring Biden's arrival in Atlanta to discuss voting rights.
"The truth is that Biden's seen a drop among Black voters over voting right, and she showed her bases she was with them," Trump confidante said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to allow him to speak freely.
Sarah Riggs Amico is a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2018. Abrams made her first bid for governor. She said she has a contrarian opinion compared with other Democrats and thinks the environment could be more favorable this year for Abrams.
She acknowledged, however, that Democrats face headwinds and she hopes they will pass.
Amico stated, "If we're exiting from a pandemic," Amico said, "Inflation is falling, unemployment remains low, and wages continue rising, these are all favorable for me." But these things must happen. It's still neck-and-neck, even if they don’t.
Quentin James, the leader of The Collective, a super PAC aimed at helping Black Democrats, agreed to Amico, but admitted that Democrats will need to work harder in 2012.
James stated that "Republicans changed voting rules for a reason." "When it is harder for people to vote, it makes us less likely to win."