ATLANTA — Democrat Stacey Abrams ventured onto the campaign trail Wednesday for the first time since announcing her campaign for governor.
Although Abrams skipped an Atlanta event last week with President Biden, she cleared her calendar to appear at a Union Hall with some of Georgia’s most reliable Democratic supporters.
Eight labor representatives had lined up to endorse Abrams, who came within one-and-a-half percentage points of beating Brian Kemp in 2018. Abrams had previously served as the House Democratic leader while holding a seat in the General Assembly. She gave up the seat to run for governor in 2018.
Abrams expects to spend much of this campaign year observing the infighting of her two Republican opponents, Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Senator David Perdue. Much of their rhetoric invokes Abrams.
"I’m running for governor to make sure Stacey Abrams is never governor of Georgia," Perdue said in the first seconds of his introductory video, released when he announced his primary campaign against Kemp.
Many Republicans fear the primary will weaken whoever emerges to face Abrams this fall.
"Your zip code should not determine whether you survive this pandemic," Abrams told the crowd, talking up Medicaid expansion, education, criminal justice reform, and her opposition to Kemp and Perdue’s proposal to eliminate the permit to conceal-carry firearms.
Kemp's campaign returned fire with a statement denouncing the labor unions endorsing Abrams as “far-left radical groups.”
"The early start of Abrams’ campaign makes sense," Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie said. "They shouldn’t wait 'til July to do that. They might as well take advantage of the time and start to lay the groundwork for the statewide campaign now."
Abrams said she was looking forward to spending much of the next 10 months talking to Georgia voters.
"I am excited to have this early endorsement. It means we can get to work early, that while they fight one another, we can get together and fight for Georgia," Abrams said.
Although election campaigns seem to be starting earlier than ever, Abrams will have the luxury of working mostly behind the scenes – raising money, refining her message, while Kemp and Perdue duke it out this spring.