Stacey Abrams’ second coming/campaign for re-election is underway, and Republicans in Georgia are worried. A split Republican ticket with former President Donald Trump pushing a challenger to incumbent Governor Brian Kemp will divide Republicans in an election year that is vital across the country.
So, there are people on the right and the left who feel Abrams may have a shot if the Republican in-fighting continues. Democrats see an opportunity to take a state that has been teetering on the edge of purple for a while now, and it could offset predicted losses in the federal midterm elections.
But Abrams appears to be dodging her party’s leader, President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to be in the state for an event today.
— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) January 10, 2022
Abrams, who claimed the 2018 gubernatorial election was stolen from her thanks to voter suppression efforts, is avoiding a public appearance with Biden as he gives a speech to rally support for the voting rights act that has stalled in the Senate. At a time when Biden could use a strong voice from the state to back him up, especially on an issue that she has talked about at length, she has declined to be part of it.
Of course, she could be honest here and the claim that she has a prior engagement is legitimate. But she is a Democratic candidate for public office in a state the Democrats have been trying to swing for years. If your party’s leader, the President of the United States, is making an appearance, the usual party loyalty demands you be there. If it’s on a topic you have been passionate about yourself, you tie yourself to it. If it is a key part of the President’s agenda and your party’s platform, you shift your schedule to make it happen.
To be fair, Abrams has been trying to build herself up as her own person since her first run for governor. She has been focused largely on herself and get out the vote efforts that support her, with rumors out of Georgia that it has rubbed the state party the wrong way. Then, of course, there was her failed, embarrassing campaign for Vice President that led to her being mocked by anonymous Biden staff and ultimately losing the job to Kamala Harris, who has fast become the absolute worst choice of Vice President in history.
But this decision to not appear with Biden says more about him than it does Abrams. Biden will be in the state and will be on stage with Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who himself is in a re-election bid after winning a special election in 2020. Warnock sees the issue of voting rights/voter suppression as an issue to run and win on, and he is hoping to use the event today as a means to push himself forward on that.
But Abrams is avoiding Biden’s speech. Her campaign is making a calculated move here. If Biden is toxic, then the campaign wants to be as far removed from national politics as normal. If the national political scene is a drag on state Democratic candidates, they want to be seen as focused on state issues.
That is a bad sign for national Democrats in 2022. If Biden himself is seen as toxic and Democratic candidates don’t want to be seen with him, then he looks weaker and the party looks weaker. It may also inspire more candidates to run independently of the party in an effort to define themselves and not let Biden and national politics define them. It will be a mitigation effort of Herculean proportions but if Abrams, a popular figure among Democrats, is doing it then more will follow.