Can Stacey Abrams overcome voter suppression in her second bid for Georgia governor?

EXCLUSIVE: Advocates and political scientists think Abrams has a strong shot in 2022, but there is some concern about the negative impact of the Democratic Party's lack of action on Capitol Hill.

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Stacey Abrams is poised to be a strong gubernatorial candidate among Democrats seeking to win statewide races in states with traditional republican strongholds.

Stacey Abrams
US politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams arrives to meet with US President Joe Biden at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on March 19, 2021. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

As the 2022 election season kicks off, political organizers, civil rights leaders and scholars all believe Abrams will connect with voters in Georgia with more success than her last bid for the governor’s office in 2018. 

Abrams lost her gubernatorial contest against then Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversaw the state’s election system. She notably slammed Kemp for what she and Democrats described as voter suppression after his office purged more than 300,000 voters from Georgia’s registration rolls ahead of their contest. 

As Abrams put it, Kemp was “the referee, the contestant and the scorekeeper.”

“Stacey Abrams did what no other Democrat running for a statewide office did after losing,” says Dr. Christina Greer, political contributor at theGrio and Fordham University professor of political science. “She rolled up her sleeves and got to work.” 

Greer contends Abrams established a political network to address voter suppression and educate eligible voters in Georgia about how to participate in their state democratic process. She emphasizes that the work of Abrams’ advocacy organization, Fair Fight, leveled the playing field in 2020 and aided two Democratic candidates in Georgia to win U.S. Senate seats (Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff) and then-presidential candidate Joe Biden to clinch the Peach State’s electoral votes. 

Rev. Raphael Warnock
Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for Georgia senate, speaks with supporters near Coan Park in Atlanta, Ga., on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Stacey Abrams, former candidate for Georgia governor, appears at right. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Since the 2020 election, voter suppression laws across the country have taken aim at the organizing efforts for Abrams and her contemporaries. Specifically, in the battle state Abrams is seeking office, Georgia’s Senate Bill 202 targets mail-in voting access. This stands to challenge the progress Abrams has made in the state through her advocacy and organizing.

Ben Jealous, president and CEO of People for the American Way and previous contender for Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial race, shares Greer’s outlook on Abrams’ second bid to become governor of Georgia. 

“She hasn’t just built a campaign apparatus, she’s built a movement, and she’s done that for years. And so she is a unique type of politician because she’s also a movement builder,” Jealous tells theGrio

While Abrams is poised to be the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in Georgia, the Republican Party has two front runners for their nominee, incumbent Gov. Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue

Both Greer and Jealous believe regardless of who challenges Abrams, she has a strong shot at the governor’s mansion. But advocacy groups and some members of Congress are leery of the negative impact of Democrats on Capitol Hill not passing the Build Back Better (BBB) social spending package. The bill not being passed into law, they believe, could pose a political threat to party members seeking office and reelection in 2022. 

A key component of BBB that has members of Congress, advocates and President Joe Biden concerned is the popular child tax credit, which was expanded earlier this year under the COVID-19 stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan. 

U.S. President Joe Biden (2nd L) speaks as (L-R) Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) listen during an event on the American Rescue Plan in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The White House has touted the ability for the tax program to reduce childhood poverty, but without passing the social spending bill – which would have continued payments for another year – the administration will fall short of making good on its original economic projections.

“Despite the child tax credit being lauded by lawmakers and economists as a tangible way to tackle poverty in the country, it is set to expire next year if Congress does not take urgent action,” Arisha Michelle Hatch, Vice President at Color Of Change said in a statement to theGrio

“The lives of Black and low-income families should not be traded away in the name of bipartisanship. If Democrats want our communities to turn out to vote in 2022, they must carry out their campaign promises to stand up for us, by passing Build Back Better and ensuring the child tax credit is here to stay.”

TheGrio spoke with U.S. Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York, who will be seeking reelection this year and has been adamant about his desire to see BBB passed. Bowman is also part of the Democratic Party’s Congressional Progressive Caucus who signaled that the BBB would have challenges if it did not remain attached to the president’s infrastructure package that was signed into law in November.

“We’re talking maybe 4,000 children in my district that will no longer receive the child tax credit payments,” Bowman told theGrio. “If we don’t get this done, if we don’t do other things, why would they trust us to deliver in 2022 and beyond? … So we have to get Build Back Better.”

Bowman thinks there is still time and interest in getting the package passed. 

“It might be on life support, but it’s not dead,” he added.

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