Stacey Abrams is being hailed for President-elect Joe Biden’s apparent narrow victory in Georgia, a state Democrats have long dreamed of winning.
After Election Day, the southern State has yet to be officially be called for either candidate — and by-hand recount is forthcoming — but Biden’s roughly 14,000-vote lead has been lauded by Democrats, with much of the praise being directed towards Abrams.
Abrams came within 55,000 votes of becoming the country’s first Black governor in 2018,after which Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit voting rights group dedicated to fighting voter suppression and promoting voter participation nationwide, but especially in Georgia.
Over a third of Georgia’s population is Black, and it’s believed that Black voters were systemically disenfranchised when the state conducted the biggest voter purge in U.S. history in 2017, Democrats believe this cost Abrams the gubernatorial election in 2018.
Fair Fight Action and other such groups successfully re-registered thousands of Georgians who were purged, and also registered hundreds of thousands of Georgians who had previously not voted.
At the heart of Georgia’s transformation from solid red to battleground state has been relational organizing — a central part of Abrams’ ethos — something that she does as well as anyone in the country.
Left-leaning Forward Majority’s National Political Director, China Dickerson said that the success of Abrams and other voting rights groups stems from building relationships with the voters who they want to elevate.
“They want to talk to the voters, and because they talk to the voters, they know the voters,” Dickerson said in an interview. “I think too often, and we saw this cycle … the polling, we do a lot of treating individuals, like machines, like robots.”
Groups like the Fair Fight Action and New Georgia Project value the quality of the relationships over quantity, Dickerson explained, noting that it’s an area that the Democratic Party needs to improve.
“They didn’t just do this, this cycle,” Dickerson said. “This has been a relationship building effort that grassroots organizations — including Stacey Abrams — [are] good at doing.”
Marcus Ferrell, the former chief of staff for New Georgia Project and former deputy campaign manager for Abrams, called the former gubernatorial candidate a “genius” when it comes to reaching voters where they are.
“Stacey understands that you have to talk to Georgians … in a language that they understand and an authentic manner that they understand.”
Dickerson noted that hiring “people within the community to talk to the people within the community,” has always been a priority for Abrams.
“She fundamentally understands that more than, I think, a lot of Democrats,” Dickerson said.
As a result, Abrams and company not only potentially turned Georgia blue in the general election, but have put both of the state’s Senate seats up for grabs in runoff elections.
Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock will square off against GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, on January 5.
A disappointing down-ballot showing for Democrats on Election Day has forced the party to put its hope of having control of the Senate on sweeping the pair of races.
Abrams immediately turned her attention to the runoff races, announcing Monday that she and Fair Fight Action had already raised $6 million for Ossoff and Warnock.
In a tweet, she thanked Georgians saying that “[t]ogether, we have changed the course of our state for the better.”
“But our work is not done,” Abrams added.
No matter the outcome of the runoffs, it’s speculated that Abrams will take a leap forward politically. Possibilities that have been floated consist of chairing the Democratic National Committee and making another run at Georgia’s governorship.
“I think Stacey will do what she feels like she can do and still maintain her way of doing things,” Dickerson said. “So, if [for example], being DNC chair means that she is not able to continue … relational organizing and grassroots and the being on the ground, she’s not going to do it.”