Stacey Abrams: Now that you mention it, I might run for president

Will the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination come down to a choice between a man who didn’t win a statewide election in Texas and a woman who didn’t win a statewide election in Georgia? Naaaaah. But that doesn’t mean Robert “Beto” O’Rourke won’t still run for the nomination, and now Politico reports that Stacey Abrams might consider a presidential bid after commanding national attention for her narrow loss:

Stacey Abrams said Monday that she is considering running for a Georgia Senate seat in 2020 or governor again in 2022 — and possibly even for president.

Abrams’ drew national attention in her bid to become the first black woman governor in the United States, and the progressive political action committee Democracy for America included her in a presidential poll it opened online last week.

Asked if she is considering a presidential campaign, Abrams said, “No … I haven’t thought about it.”

She stopped short of ruling out a campaign, however, saying, “I am open to all options, and it’s too soon after the election to know exactly what I’m going to do.”

Well, why not? Everyone’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, apparently including their previous nominee, Hillary Clinton. Normally, primary voters want some proof of success in electoral politics before nominating someone to run for president, but Donald Trump didn’t need it for either the primary or the general election. That’s because he was a populist running against establishmentarians like, er, Hillary Clinton. That could be how Abrams and O’Rourke pull off an outsider charge in 2020 for the nomination too!

In truth, however, O’Rourke probably starts off as the outsidier outsider, or at least the most well-funded. For whatever reasons, O’Rourke pulled off a third-quarter fundraising level not seen outside of presidential campaigns ($36 million), and for that matter rarely seen inside of presidential campaigns. Abrams might get a similar response, especially as she has become a symbol of supposed election shenanigans for progressive Democrats, but a lot of people have already invested themselves in the Beto myth — including Barack Obama’s former supporters and advisers, reportedly.

That might be better news for Republicans than having Abrams focus on Georgia. If she chooses to do that, she’ll get plenty of national support perhaps as early as 2020, when David Perdue has to run for re-election. Perdue did much better than polling suggested in 2014 (53/45), but that was a minor GOP wave election cycle, not a cycle in which Trump will run for re-election. Abrams can run against Perdue in 2020, and then against Kemp in 2022 if she can’t quite pull off the Senate upset. That seems a lot more likely, and given the loss of Karen Handel’s seat, an upset might be more likely too.

Georgia voters return to the polls today to decide a runoff for secretary of state. ABC News frames it as a proxy fight over the controversial gubernatorial race, and it’s a close call heading into today’s vote:

The Georgia secretary of state race, which advanced to a Dec. 4 runoff after no candidate received a majority of the vote last month, not only is a partisan reflection of the gubernatorial contest that preceded it, but it will put the winner in a position to immediately address voter disenfranchisement and suppression claims that marred the state’s 2018 elections.

On Election Day last month, Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger received 49.09 percent to Democratic former U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s 48.67 percent, a difference of just over 16,000 votes. Voting that night, and early voting in the weeks prior, overseen by the secretary of state’s office, featured scores of complaints across Georgia about voter registration purging and difficulties in obtaining absentee ballots and confirming their receipt and legitimacy.

Kemp won’t run today’s election, having already stepped aside as secretary of state. If Republicans win today, that might cool the accusations of voter suppression. If Democrats win, however, expect those to be amplified — and maybe Democratic wins in 2020 and 2022 won’t be upsets at all.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on October 04, 2022
David Strom 1:31 PM on October 04, 2022