O’Rourke was the biggest political story of the 2018 election. His campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz brought in a stunning $70 million, despite his refusal to take corporate money. Beyoncé and LeBron James promoted him and, despite losing, he is now the buzziest name in the speculation about which Democrats will run for president in 2020.
Abrams didn’t go unnoticed in her quest to win the governorship of the Peach State. But while Oprah Winfrey and other big names campaigned for her and Abrams got plenty of national media attention, she never became the kind of cause célèbre that O’Rourke did, raising a respectable $26 million. She is occasionally mentioned in the 2020 conversation but is generally expected to run for statewide office again in her home state.
Why is that? If the Democratic Party was going to fall in love with an up-and-coming politician in their mid-40s, why didn’t it rally around Abrams? She’d been minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2011, working with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on education reform, transportation and other issues. And she’d built a statewide movement of newly registered voters of color, plugging away at this task, election cycle after election cycle.