I thought maybe Stacey Abrams had quietly back-burnered her own version of election trutherism this year, not wanting to hand Republicans an easy whataboutist defense of Trump’s “stop the steal” conspiracy theorizing.
But no, it seems she’ll never let go. And why would she? She got there first. She was grousing about having had her rightful victory in Georgia’s gubernatorial election snatched away by Republican chicanery two full years before Trump started doing the same.
“Just because you win doesn’t mean you won,” she said during a campaign appearance with Terry McAuliffe yesterday before adding, “I come from a state where I was not entitled to become the governor.” People who lose elections typically aren’t “entitled” to the office they ran for, are they?
She and Trump should campaign together in 2022 when she runs for governor again. Call it the “We Wuz Robbed” tour. He might be up for it. He’s already basically endorsed her, after all.
Stacey Abrams: "I come from a state where I was not entitled to become the governor, but as an American citizen and a citizen of Georgia, I'm going to fight for every person who has the right to vote to be able to cast that vote." pic.twitter.com/jHDnasBBkR
— The Hill (@thehill) October 18, 2021
Gabriel Sterling, one of Brad Raffensperger’s deputies in election administration in Georgia, has spent the past year batting down Trump’s allegations of rampant cheating. Last night he fired up the Twitter machine and found that his office is still getting it from the left too thanks to Abrams:
Not “entitled”? Really? You lost. You simply lost. You had less votes. The same way Trump lost. You both lost. You both lied about why you lost. You both raise millions based on those lies. And your loss was 4x bigger than Trump’s in Georgia. https://t.co/lVYBScU2sc
— Gabriel Sterling (@GabrielSterling) October 19, 2021
You would think Democrats would pull her aside and tell her that it’d help them prosecute the case that Trump is a special threat to American civic norms if she’d stop questioning the integrity of elections herself. But they can’t do that; too many big-name Dems *supported* her theory that she was cheated by GOP voter-suppression tactics to turn tail now. Abrams is one of the most prominent black politicians in the country and has become the face of voting-rights activism. No one wants to alienate her by whispering, “Listen, big fan. But you sound like a crank.”
It’s not really Abrams whom they’re afraid of alienating, though, it’s black voters. That’s why McAuliffe asked her to come to Virginia, because African-Americans have soured on Biden and he’s desperate for ways to get them excited to turn out. Abrams’s motives in repeating her own version of the Big Lie (the Little Lie?) are similar to Trump’s in some ways. Partly it’s an ego thing — for Trump, it’s entirely an ego thing — and partly it’s good GOTV fodder for the base. Her pitch isn’t illogical the way Trump’s is, though. He and the GOP are trying to motivate Republicans to vote next year by telling them that their votes might not count, which doesn’t make sense but serves the purpose of encouraging anger and hoping that it somehow manifests in turnout. Abrams doesn’t claim that vote-counting is rigged, rather that GOP election administrators are conniving to make it harder for blacks to actually turn out to the polls. Your vote will count, she’s telling Democrats, but you’ve got to make an extra effort to cast it.
Dems are so anxious to turn out black Virginians for McAuliffe, in fact, that they’re ramping up campaigning in black churches. I wrote over the weekend about a brazen violation of the Johnson Amendment by churches airing Kamala Harris’s endorsement of McAuliffe. Yesterday Abrams stopped by three churches in Virginia to get out the vote in person:
“I am the daughter of not one, but two pastors,” said Abrams, who like all attendees entering Second Calvary Baptist Church showed a card indicating that she was fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The pastor, Geoffrey Guns, wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with “VOTE” and told the congregation that what’s “coming up is a very important election.” He repeated the phrase to louder applause and cries of ”Amen.”…
Abrams said when she first began running for office, she felt mixing politics and church was bad. But, she said, her mother eventually reminded her that “politics is always in the church” and her father said that the Bible “is one of the most intense political texts ever written.”
“Voting is an act of faith,” Abrams said. “I need you to do the job.”
It’s not clear from that limited excerpt whether churches that hosted Abrams also violated the Johnson Amendment. They can host generic GOTV appeals without risking their tax-exempt status under the tax code. What they can’t do is endorse a particular candidate, as Harris did in her video. Did Abrams explicitly endorse McAuliffe in her remarks or was it just heavily implied in the name of skirting the rules? He’s a Democrat, she’s a Democrat, she was there begging people to vote. I’m sure the audience figured it out even if his name wasn’t uttered.