wall street journal
Stacy Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, is up against a GOP incumbent in a generally favorable Republican environment, trying to meet high hopes after her narrow defeat in the 2018 race. But as election day draws near, she’s found one issue to center her campaign on: protecting abortion rights in Georgia.
“It’s going to be at the fore and center of the conversation,” Abrams told CNN in an interview Saturday while campaigning at a farmers market in Atlanta.
In particular, Abrams has focused on a 2019 law signed by his Republican opponent, Gov. Brian Kemp, that bans most abortions if early heart activity is detected, which can be up to six weeks into pregnancy — when many Women do not yet know that they are pregnant. After initially being blocked, the law went into effect earlier this year, when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade – a decision that energized Democrats across the country, helping to shift the midterm political landscape into more volatile territory. Abrams is testing how much this issue could shift things in his favor in taking on state president Joe Biden in a narrow 2020 take, but it has long voted Republican.
“Women are entitled to full citizenship in the United States and of course in the state of Georgia, and they are being denied because of Brian Kemp’s 6-week ban,” said Abrams, who scored 2 points from Kemp four years ago. Lost at least. She says she hears from angry health care providers during her visit to the state. “We are not only taking doctors and nurses out of the state, we are probably going to take away jobs. And it must be terrible for anyone, regardless of your political persuasion.”
Meanwhile, the Republican governor has stood by the law, which provides few exceptions, and has otherwise been focused on pocketbook issues. Asked by CNN about South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recent proposal for a nationwide ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, her campaign said Kemp has “consistently affirmed” her opposition to abortion.
Kemp campaign spokeswoman Tate Mitchell said, “Rather than detract from the latest national media frenzy, she’s focused on relieving hardworking Georgians from 40 years of high inflation through tax relief and creating economic opportunities in every corner of the state.” Will continue to focus.” In an emailed statement.
Abrams and Kemp’s differing viewpoints reflect their differing theories about what drives voters to swing in states where elections are decided faster by less margin. Georgia is one of the most high-profile Senate races of the year, as Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock runs for a full six-year term. Nationally, Democrats have been encouraged by both turnout and better-than-expected results in recent special elections, indicating opposition to restrictions on abortion rights. But Republicans are betting that voters are more concerned about inflation and other pressing economic issues.
September’s Quinnipiac poll shows how close the race is, with 50% of potential voters supporting Kemp and 48% supporting Abrams. Quinnipiac told 57% of potential voters in Georgia that it is very important that a candidate shares his or her views on abortion. Within that group, 63% back Abrams and 36% support Kemp. But in the same poll, 41% of potential voters ranked “inflation” as the most urgent issue facing Georgia, while only 12% said “abortion.” The numbers were similar in a new Marist poll, with 40% of registered voters in Georgia ranked “inflation” as the most important issue in this election and only 16% said the same about “abortion.” In the Marist poll 50% of registered voters supported Kemp and 44% supported Abrams.
Kemp supporter Dr. Barry Zeisholtz told CNN after the governor’s remarks at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum in Sandy on Sunday: “Governor Kemp’s position is his position, and there are issues more important to the state of Georgia than just abortion.” ” Springs. “People just want to make it an issue, but I think people should be concerned about paying for their groceries and gasoline as well.”
But Abrams supporters say abortion could be a deciding factor that could affect women who previously voted for Kemp.
“I think it could be the difference in our state,” said Rosa Thurner, owner of Atlanta Mexican restaurant, which was at the farmers market on Saturday.
“I’m hoping that women can be kind to other women and just know that we need to make some changes and protect this right for our fellow sisters for generations to come.”
The daughter of Methodist clergy with roots in southern Mississippi, Abrams hasn’t always advocated for abortion rights. At the Emily’s List Gala in May, she detailed how, as a teenager, she regretted rejecting a friend who suggested she needed an abortion.
Abrams went on to say that as a young professional, when he thought more deeply about his ideas, he realized that his position had changed.
“I was wrong but I worked hard to make myself right,” she said at the ceremony.
Today, Abrams does not support any government ban on abortion, arguing that it is a medical problem that should not be bound by an “arbitrary” time limit. On the road, she talks about her personal growth on abortion and raised the issue last month at a roundtable for women coping with pregnancy loss.
Since the Supreme Court ruling this summer, Abrams’ campaign has gone downhill after Kemp pushed hard on abortion.
One of her TV commercials called Kemp’s position on abortion “extreme and dangerous” and said she signed “the most extreme abortion law in the country.” The ad suggests that Kemp, based on his personal opposition to abortion, will seek sanctions even greater than current state law.
And some anti-abortion activists are pushing the governor to go further. Georgia is circulating a petition among Right to Life activist groups, first reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and obtained by CNN, to convene a special session of the General Assembly to pass legislation on Kemp Pressure was put in place that would ban practically all abortions in the state.
“We have no plans to convene a special session and the governor has made it very clear that his focus is on implementing the 2019 law,” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said.
While Kemp says she is committed to enforcing the current abortion law, she has taken a less harsh tone on the issue than some of her fellow Republicans nationally.
“I understand that people can disagree about when abortion should or shouldn’t be legal,” she said at a campaign event in Atlanta last week.
When asked about the issue on the trail, Kemp often brings up his wife, Marty, and their three adult daughters. He touted abortion limits signed into law, but also cited other policy initiatives that his administration says respects the “sanctity of life.”
“We have also reformed adoption. We have reformed foster care,” Kemp said last week at a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative interest group.
But the governor is quick to pivot to economic issues – from criticizing President Joe Biden’s record on inflation to talking down his own record on economic growth and keeping businesses and churches open in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. desire.
A person familiar with the campaign tells CNN that Kemp’s internal data suggest inflation and cost of living are the most important issues on voters’ minds — down the list of concerns with abortion.
But Democrats are convinced that the abortion ban has opened up free and even Republican voters to support Abrams.
“I think her stance on abortion is going to help her in the election. … People who are pro-life or anti-abortion try to make abortion look like a partisan issue, but I don’t think that It really is,” said Jonesboro-based community organizer Kazembe Murphy Jackson.