Dec 6, 2021 - News

Inside Stacey Abrams' 2022 strategy

Stacey Abrams waving
Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In her first major interview since Stacey Abrams entered the governor's race, campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo sums up to Axios the "organizing principle" behind her boss' second bid for Georgia's highest office:

  • "People are in historic pain through this pandemic that has driven and furthered racial and income inequality in our state."

Why it matters: More than three years after she narrowly lost to incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, Abrams' second run at the seat will happen in a vastly different environment.

  • She has national name recognition and new fundraising prowess, while Kemp is an incumbent governor who also faces an unprecedented intra-party Republican battle brewing with former Sen. David Perdue.

Groh-Wargo said the Abrams campaign will continue its 2018 strategy of building a diverse coalition of white voters and voters of color.

  • "When I started in politics in this state that was something that people viewed to be at odds: that you had to do one or the other," she said. "That is something we've always rejected."
  • She says more than 1.2 million new voters will have entered Georgia's electorate since 2018, and they skew younger and more diverse than statewide numbers.

Yes but: "What's not necessarily obvious is how you put that together in a midterm [election]," Groh-Wargo said. "We're not going to sugarcoat...we don't win a lot of midterms. That's not a thing we do in our party."

The national climate for Democrats and President Joe Biden's approval ratings are seen as obstacles for candidates like Abrams in 2022.

  • Abrams aides have been quick to point out the long-term headwinds facing the Georgia GOP with an incoming challenging primary and a shrinking base of voters.

What to expect from the Abrams campaign:

  • They will build "an operation immediately, that is fully statewide, culturally competent and reflects all the diversity of our state...we have the financial power to do so in our fundraising and we'll be able to really move on that very quickly."
  • Plus, she said, there will be "some different things we're going to do that address this particular moment when people are in so much pain. And that'll be the pieces you'll start to see us put together in the coming months."

The bottom line: Groh-Wargo said unlike 2018 Abrams has "settled the debate" as to whether she's qualified for the job and no longer needs to build name ID.

  • "Of course, that means Republicans know her too. And of course, Republicans don't like her," she said. "But Republicans don't like their incumbent governor either...so I'm not sure that's exactly a liability at this time, and gives us a lot of runway to build out our coalition."
  • "We are in a Big D Democratic boom in Georgia. We have energy and momentum and infrastructure on our side. And we are unified. That is also absolutely huge and critical going into next year."
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