Stacey Abrams

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: The Circus / Source of Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKWX_MRK9VE

Background

Stacey Yvonne Abrams was born in Madison, Wisconsin on December 9, 1973. She earned a BA in Political Science/Economics/Sociology from Spelman College in 1995, an MPA in Public Policy from the University of Texas in 1998, and a JD from Yale Law School in 1999.

After completing her formal education, Abrams worked as a Special Counsel for the Atlanta-based law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan from 1999-2003. She then served as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Atlanta Law Department from 2003-06; Chief Executive Officer of Sage Works, a legal consulting firm, from 2003-present; Chief Operating Officer of Insomnia Group, an investment and consulting firm, from 2007-10; Chief Operations Officer of Nourish, a beverage company with a focus on infants and toddlers, from 2007-present; and co-owner/Senior Vice President of the NOW Account Network Corporation, a financial services firm, from 2010-present.

Launching a Political Career

Abrams launched a political career as a Democrat in 2006 when she was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where she held a seat from January 2007 until August 2017.

In 2013, Abrams co-founded the New Georgia Project (NGP), a partisan voter-registration organization designed to register hundreds of thousands of new Democrat voters across the state. From 2017 through February 21, 2020, Raphael Warnock served as NGP’s Chief Executive Officer.

  • In 2014 the Georgia Secretary of State investigated NGP for alleged voter fraud, when contractors working for the group were accused of forging voter registration applications. “The case was referred to law enforcement in 2017,” reports the Washington Free Beacon, “but charges were never brought.”
  • According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, NGP illegally “sent voter registration applications to New York City” in 2020. “Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony,” said Raffensperger. “These third-party groups [like NGP] have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible.”

In 2018, Abrams ran against Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Her campaign was endorsed and supported by Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, George Soros, Democracy for America, MoveOn Political Action, the Working Families Party, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, and Our Revolution. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris went to Georgia to campaign for her.

In October 2018, Abrams predicted that the upcoming midterm elections would see a “blue wave” of Democrat victories sweep across the country, and that “undocumented” aliens would be key contributors to it. “The thing of it is,” said Abrams, “the blue wave is African American. It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pacific Islander, it is disabled, it is differently-abled, it is LGBTQ, it is law enforcement, it is veterans. It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

Opposing the Elimination of Ineligible Names from Voter Rolls

In October 2018, Abrams derided Brian Kemp’s use of an “exact match” system that had placed more than 50,000 Georgia voter registrations on hold because of discrepancies between different sets of government records, or because they were flagged as registrations of potential non-citizens. She charged that “the exact match system has a disproportionate effect on people of color and women,” causing many of them to be “disenfranchised.”

Disparaging Free-Market Capitalism

At an October 2018 town hall, Abrams said she was “sick and tired of hearing about the free market being the solution” to problems in the health care system, adding: “I’ve never seen the free market write a prescription in rural Georgia. I’ve never seen the free market show up to give someone Metformin, so they can have a little control over their diabetes before it turns into an amputation of their foot. I’ve never seen the free market say ‘I’m going to replace that stent in your heart next door and not make you go 200 miles to get it done.’ The problem with the free market is the free market needs to make a profit, and there is no profit in doing the right thing.”

Abrams & the Second Amendment

A key focus of Abrams’ 2018 campaign was the Second Amendment and gun-ownership rights.

  • Two years earlier, Abrams had sponsored HB 731, legislation that designated certain commonly owned semiautomatic firearms – such as AR-15s, AK-47s, Ruger Mini 14s, and .50 caliber rifles – as contraband. The bill required the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to seize those weapons from their owners, and sought to bar the sale or use of “high capacity” magazines.
  • In October 2018 the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Abrams, who has described AR-15 rifles as “weapons of mass destruction,” was calling for “universal background checks for private sales of firearms, a ban of high-powered assault rifles, and a repeal of campus gun legislation” that allowed concealed-permit holders to be armed on college campuses.
  • Abrams’ 2018 campaign webpage said that she also planned to enact gun-confiscation orders, commonly referred to as “red flag laws,” which allow judges to authorize police to enter a gun owner’s home and take his or her firearms.
  • During a November 4, 2018 appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Abrams told host Jake Tapper that “AR-15s are not necessary on our streets.” She then called for more restrictions on “semiautomatic weapons” in general, acknowledging that one possible result of her gun-control policies could be that “people would turn their guns in.” Abrams also spoke about the possibility of the government enacting mandatory “buybacks” of certain firearms and/or “grandfathering in” certain weapons, so that existing owners could keep them but would be barred from selling or transferring them to other individuals.
  • In a November 5, 2018 interview on CNN, Abrams compared bans on commonly owned semiautomatic firearms with bans on radar detectors, saying: “I support a law that will ban ‘assault weapons.’ And just as when we banned radar detection, for example, some people turned in their devices, some people kept them and just refused to use them anymore.”

Support from Oprah Winfrey

In early November 2018, media mogul Oprah Winfrey traveled to Georgia to campaign for Abrams, holding two town-hall events with her in DeKalb County and Cobb County, and then going door-to-door with her to urge residents to support Abrams at the ballot box. I am honored to have Oprah join me for uplifting and honest conversations with voters about the clear choice before us in this election and the boundless potential of Georgians,” said Abrams. Winfrey, for her part, said at one campaign event: “I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed. I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.”

Refusing to Admit Defeat in Her Failed 2018 Gubernatorial Campaign

Abrams lost the November 2018 gubernatorial election by approximately 50,000 votes, but she disputed the result. In her speech announcing the end of her campaign, she also announced the creation of Fair Fight Georgia, a voting-rights nonprofit organization that sued the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board in federal court for “the gross mismanagement of this election.” On November 11, Abrams also filed a federal lawsuit that aimed to: (a) legally force a runoff election against Kemp; (b) block two counties from rejecting provisional and absentee ballots that contained errors; (c) require county officials to accept provisional ballots from voters who had relocated but had not updated their voter registrations to reflect their new addresses; and (d) extend the deadline by which the state of Georgia was required to certify the election results.

On November 18, 2018 on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Abrams if she believed that Brian Kemp was the “legitimate” Governor-elect of Georgia. She replied evasively: “The law, as it stands, says that he received an adequate number of votes to become the governor of Georgia, and I acknowledge the law as it stands. I am a lawyer by training and I have taken the Constitutional oath to uphold the law.” When Tapper reiterated his question, Abrams answered: “He is the person who won the adequate number of votes to become the governor.” At that point, Tapper said: “You’re not using the word legitimate. Is he the legitimate governor governor-elect of Georgia?” Abrams responded: “He is the legal governor of Georgia. Words have meaning. I spent my lifetime not only as an attorney but as a writer and I’m careful of the words I choose. When he takes the oath of office he will be the legal governor of the state of Georgia, the legal victor. What you are looking to me to say is that there was no compromise of our democracy and there should be some political compromise in the language I use and that’s not right. What’s not right is saying that something was done properly when it was not.”

At an April 2019 convention at Al Sharpton’s Nation Action Network, Abrams asserted that the 2018 gubernatorial election had been “stolen” by her Republican opponent Brian Kemp. “We won,” she said. “… I’m not saying they stole it from me — they stole it from the voters of Georgia.”

Support for Permitting Non-Citizens to Vote

In a January 2019 interview on PBS’s Firing Line, host Margaret Hoover asked Abrams: “What is your view about some municipalities, like San Francisco, who have decided that it’s okay for some non-citizens to vote in local elections?” Abrams replied: “I think … the granularity of what cities decide is so specific, as to, I think, allow for people to be participants in the process without it somehow undermining our larger democratic ethic that says that you should be a citizen to be a part of the conversation.” Hoover then asked: “So, in some cases, you would be supportive of non-citizens voting?” Abrams answered: “I wouldn’t be — I wouldn’t oppose it.”

Support for Reparations

In April 2019, Abrams said that she saw a “credible [political] path” to the implementation of reparations for African Americans and Native Americans, “the groups that by law had been stripped of their autonomy and their participation in our society.” “I think that reparations make sense,” she added. “[W]e have to acknowledge that in the United States of America it wasn’t simply that we didn’t like a certain group, we’ve built — no. Not we, they. The government built systems designed to exclude and to diminish the capacity of communities to participate in their own economic survival.”

Praising “Identity Politics”

During a May 2019 Ideas Conference at the Center for American Progress, Abrams criticized Democrat presidential hopeful and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for having cited identity politics as a chief cause of social conflict. Said Abrams: “The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the past 10 years and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the voices coming into progress. I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won. When I hear Democratic candidates, progressive candidates, American candidates decrying the identity of their voters, I’m deeply worried for our democracy.”

Position on Lowering the Legal Voting Age to 16

In May 2019, Abrams told Scholastic News that the legal voting age should be lowered to 16 for school board elections, and perhaps for federal elections as well: “I think we should test it out for local elections. I do believe we need to investigate lowering the voting age for federal elections, but I’m not convinced yet. I remember being 16. I remember how involved and engaged I was. While there certainly is a difference between being 16 and 18, I don’t know that the difference is wide enough to say that you should not be able to participate in federal elections, so I’m willing to be convinced.”

Contempt for President Trump

In an August 2019 appearance on ABC’s This Week, Abrams disparaged President Donald Trump as a racist: “I have said many times he is racist. More importantly, he does not value Americans and he does not value humanity. That should be more disturbing to everyone than the title we subscribe [sic] to him.”

Advocating the Abolition of the Electoral College

In August 2019, MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Abrams if she was in favor of doing away with the Electoral College. She responded, “Absolutely. The Electoral College was not designed to make certain that people in small states weren’t subject to the tyranny of urban areas. That wasn’t the conversation at the time. It was because those in power did not believe that working people had the intellectual capacity to directly elect the leader of the free world. We have long passed that time, and it’s time for direct election and popular vote.”

Supporting Vote-by-Mail and Ballot Harvesting

During an April 1, 2020 appearance on MSNBC Live, Abrams said that in light of the health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, all voters should be permitted and encouraged to vote by mail in the 2020 presidential election: “Vote by mail is the safest way to vote. And right now, I would say almost every state has the capacity to vote by mail. The challenge is that in a lot of states you have to have an excuse.” In an April 21 interview, Abrams told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that President Donald Trump’s concern about possible fraud connected to mail-in voting was unfounded: “Voter fraud is, by and large, a myth.” In a podcast interview two days later with CNN analyst David Axelrod,” Abrams, asserting that President Trump was “illegitimate” and “should not hold office,” accused Mr. Trump of being “afraid” of vote-by-mail “despite the fact that there is no evidence of fraud” associated with it. In yet another interview, Abrams said that “voter fraud is nearly mythological,” adding that “you are more likely to be struck by lightning than for there to be an incident of voting fraud.”

Abrams also advocated the use of ballot harvesting, a process that involves the gathering and submitting of completed absentee or mail-in voter ballots by third-party individuals, as opposed to requiring voters themselves to submit their ballots directly to official collection sites.

Abrams Says That Joe Biden Should Choose a Black Woman As VP Running Mate

In an April 2020 appearance on ABC’s The View, Abrams said that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should select an African-American woman as his running mate “because women of color, particularly black women, are the strongest part of the Democratic Party, the most loyal.”

Participation in Oprah Winfrey’s Anti-Racism Town Hall

In June 2020, Abrams was a guest speaker at Oprah Winfrey’s two-night town hall on racism in America, an event that aired on Winfrey’s cable channel OWN, as well as on the Discovery Channel, TLC, HGTV, and the Science Channel. Other featured speakers included filmmaker Ava DuVernay, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (who founded “The 1619 Project”), Selma actor David Oyelowo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.

Accusing a White Atlanta Police Officer of “Murder”

In June 2020, Abrams was deeply angered by a police shooting in Atlanta that killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man who had a long history of criminal violence dating back 13 years. Shortly after 10:40 PM on June 12, Atlanta officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan responded to a complaint stating that Brooks was asleep in a car which was blocking a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane. They administered a sobriety test to Brooks and found him to have an alcohol level higher than the legal limit. When the officers tried to arrest him, Brooks instigated a violent fight during which he wrestled Brosnan’s taser away from him, fought his way free, punched Rolfe, and then began to flee on foot. Officer Rolfe at that moment fired his taser at Brooks, but it failed to bring him down. Rolfe then proceeded to chase Brooks, who at one point turned and fired the stolen taser in the officer’s general direction. Rolfe drew his handgun and shot Brooks twice in the back as the suspect turned to run. (Click here for video of the altercation.) Brooks was then rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died after undergoing surgery.

After the incident, Abrams said:

  • “This is a man who had been frisked, so they knew he did not possess a deadly weapon,” They knew that he was impaired because he had parked in that [Wendy’s] driveway, and they knew when he ran away that he did not pose a danger that was a deadly force incentive.”
  • “The decision to shoot him in the back was one made out of maybe impatience or frustration or panic, but it was not one that justifies deadly force. It was murder.”
  • “A murder because a man made a mistake, not a mistake that would have cost the police officer his life but a mistake that was caused out of some form of dehumanization of Rayshard Brooks.”

Denouncing Senator Tom Cotton’s Claim That Slavery Was a “Necessary Evil”

In June 2020 as well, Abrams denounced Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s recent assertion that slavery was, “the Founding Fathers said,… the necessary evil upon which the union was built.” Cotton’s point was that the Southern states would never have agreed to join the union if the institution of slavery were to have been abolished outright.[1]  But Abrams said: “There is no such thing as a necessary evil. Evil is evil, and slavery is one of the ultimate evils. If Tom Cotton is sincere in his desire to understand history then he should be celebrating the 1619 Project. He should be celebrating The Voting Rights Act renewal. He should be celebrating Black Lives Matter because the continuity of evil in our country has led us to this moment. We can only extinguish evil by acknowledging that it exists and doing everything in our power to defeat it, not to celebrate it, not to excuse it, and certainly not to use it as a polemic way to justify the racism that runs through the party that is lifting up Tom Cotton and his language as something that’s legitimate as part of the argument about what our children should learn about this country.”

Condemning America’s “Systemic Racism”

In July 2020, Abrams told The Washington Post:

“[W]rit large, our challenge in America is that justice does not get meted out equally. In fact, it doesn’t even humanize many blacks who are killed, particularly by those who are sworn to protect them. And so I think this racial moment we are having begins with this conversation of extrajudicial killings, but it cannot be divorced from the disproportionate number of deaths by black Americans based on COVID-19, the disproportionate effect of infection rates, and the economic collapse that is hurting black and brown communities at higher rates than anyone else, and the lack of attention being paid to the disproportionate number of people of color who also face voter suppression. The systemic racism that we see in our society is wrapped into everything from our environment to criminal justice to the application of justice, and the moment we try to say that these things are separate, we set ourselves up once again for the kind of protest and demonstrations we see now. But the extent to which we acknowledge that these are interwoven, through systemic racism, systemic inequities, and systemic injustice, then we can begin to start to address them.”

Campaigning for Democrat Senate Hopefuls Raphael Warnock & Jon Ossoff

In the fall of 2020, Abrams led an effort to help two Democrats — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — win their upcoming runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats in Georgia. Toward that end, Abrams collaborated with a group of Hollywood entertainers to organize “Rock the Runoff,” a “get-out-the-vote” online concert/fundraiser. Among the performers who participated were John Legend, Common, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie), Earthgang, and the Indigo Girls. During the concert, Abrams told viewers that her goal was to use the runoff elections to “change America.”

Characterizing Election-Integrity Measures As the Racist Equivalents of Jim Crow Laws

In a March 14, 2021 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Abrams characterized Republican efforts to ensure voter integrity in political elections as tactics rooted in racism. Said Tapper: “So Republican state lawmakers in your home state, Georgia, have introduced almost two dozen bills to make it more difficult to vote. They are going to end no-excuse mail-in voting, which has been there since 2005. They will reduce voting on Sundays, ask for stricter ID requirements, take away drop boxes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in D.C. — he called this effort by Georgia Republicans ‘racist plain and simple.’ Do you agree, and is there any way for Democrats to stop these efforts?”

Abrams replied: “Well, first of all, I do absolutely agree that it’s racist. It is a redux of Jim Crow, in a suit and tie. We know the only thing that precipitated these charges — it’s not that there was a question of security — in fact, the secretary of state and the governor went to great pains to ensure America that Georgia elections were secure. So the only connection that we can find is that more people of color voted, and it changed the outcome of elections in a direction that Republicans do not like.” According to Abrams, Republicans were “using this false predicate of fraud” in order to promote reforms that would effectively “eliminate access to voting” for nonwhites.

Influencing Major League Baseball’s Decision to Move All-Star Game out of Atlanta

In April 2021, Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Robert Manfred decided to move that year’s scheduled All-Star Game out of Atlanta — and to Denver, Colorado instead — as a gesture of protest against a newly passed Georgia voting-rights law requiring heightened standards of Voter ID when people cast their ballots in that state. Notably, Colorado’s already-existing Voter ID standards were more stringent than those associated with the new Georgia law. Manfred made his decision to change the All-Star Game’s venue after holding extensive discussions with voting-rights organizations associated with Abrams, Lebron James, and Al Sharpton. Abrams, who falsely portrayed the Georgia law as a voter-suppression measure, wanted Manfred not only to denounce that statute, but also to speak out in favor of the radical For the People Act of 2021, which Congressional Democrats were striving to pass at that time. After Manfred ultimately decided that the easiest way to deal with the matter would be to take the All-Star Game out of Georgia, Abrams tweeted that she was “Disappointed @MLB will move the All-Star Game, but proud of their stance on voting rights. GA GOP traded economic opportunity for suppression.” She later released another statement that said: “Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is moving its All-Star Game; however, I commend the players, owners and League Commissioner for speaking out. As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states.”

Further Reading: “Stacey Abrams” (Ballotpedia.org, Votesmart.org).

Footnotes

  1. As bestselling author David Horowitz explains: “If the founders had attempted to abolish slavery in the Slave South in 1787, the South would have joined forces with the British – the greatest empire in the world, whose soldiers managed to burn the White House in the War of 1812. Such an alliance would likely have defeated the free states of the North, and the victorious South might have extended the reign of slavery for who knows how long. So they sought to delay a bloodbath that might result in an extension of slavery, believing [that the South’s] backward economic system … was bound to fall of its own weight.”

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