Many local television viewers have already seen the attack ads setting the stage for this year’s race for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp.
Republicans are calling Abrams “the most radical liberal to ever run for governor in Georgia,” while Democrats are claiming it’s time to turn the Peach State from red to blue.
And it’s only August. Can you imagine what October will be like leading up to the Nov. 6 election?
But even more incredible is the national attention that has already been placed on this gubernatorial race.
Just last month, Abrams was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine with the magazine touting that she could soon become “America’s First Black Female Governor.”
However, the description of 44-year-old Abrams in TIME’s article caused some readers to pause and think about how she, an extremely intelligent Yale Law graduate from Atlanta, was being portrayed as a candidate.
“Abrams is a big-boned, natural-haired, youthful-looking woman with a quizzical smile and a gap between her front teeth,” TIME’s national political correspondent, Molly Ball, wrote in the article. “She’s as likely to geek out about tax policy or “Star Trek” as she is to summon the spirit of justice. Yet when she speaks, all kinds of people — from black folks in rural communities to yuppie ‘resistance’ moms around Atlanta to this crowd of rough-handed electrical workers — go quiet and listen. In a Democratic Party divided and desperate for fresh faces, Abrams is already becoming a national star.”
TIME Magazine wasn’t the only one who noticed Abrams.
Abrams also made it into Rolling Stone last month. Not the cover, but still that’s pretty impressive national attention.
“Being the First and Only is rarely something to celebrate, and it can be a lonely way to make history. Stacey Abrams doesn’t give much of a damn, though,” Rolling Stones political reporter Jamil Smith wrote. “Certainly, the 44-year-old former Georgia House minority leader is the only black woman to have led either party in the state’s General Assembly or its House of Representatives. And now she is the first black woman of a major party to be nominated for governor in any state.”
Simply put, Abrams told Rolling Stone that she was not going to compromise on issues such as civil rights and abortion access.
“My approach is this,” Abrams reportedly said. “I’m not going to spend a disproportionate share of our resources trying to convert Republican-leaning voters when we can invest in lifting up the voices of those who share our values. Because here’s the thing: I think our values are the right ones. And I think these values that are shared actually are going to be victorious on their own.”
Meanwhile, Kemp’s camp is not wasting any time finding faults in his Democratic opponent. Specifically, Kemp claimed this
past week that Abrams owes about $50,000 in back taxes.
“Here’s the truth: Stacey Abrams made more than $1,000,000 in the last five years,” Kemp stated in a recent press release. “She’s a tax attorney who knows the system and how to play it. Abrams purposefully decided to give her campaign $50,000 rather than paying back the more than $50,000 she owed the IRS in taxes. If that’s not criminal, it should be.”
Of course, since Kemp — the two-term Republican secretary of state — was supported by President Donald Trump in last month’s Republican runoff for the governor’s seat and Abrams has been endorsed by former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, as well as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, several other national news outlets have weighed in on the upcoming showdown in Georgia.
Just this weekend, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Carol Anderson, a professor of African-American studies at Emory University.
The column was called, “Brian Kemp, Enemy of Democracy.”
Clearly, it was an extremely opinionated column that was less than flattering to Kemp.
Anderson wrote that Kemp has the “skill set” that “Trump desperately needed.”
“He is a master of voter suppression,” Anderson wrote about Kemp. “Hackable polling machines, voter roll purges, refusing to register voters until after an election, the use of investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities to vote — Mr. Kemp knows it all. Voter suppression keeps Georgia a red state.”
Anderson stated that the nearly 64 percent of the state representatives and 66 percent of the state senators who are Republican in Georgia don’t reflect the state’s demographics.
“Whites make up less than 60 percent of the state’s population, but more than 90 percent of people who voted Republican in the primary,” she wrote.
However, she insists “change is coming” and black voter turnout is increasing, “despite the barriers.”
“That’s why Mr. Kemp has worked diligently to fortify the Republicans’ crumbling bulwark since he became secretary of state in 2010,” Anderson wrote. “He has begun investigations into organizations that registered nearly 200,000 new Asian-American and African-American voters — efforts that resulted in the first majority-black school board in a small town.”
“His investigations yielded no charges, no indictments, no convictions, despite years of probing, suspects’ losing their jobs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents knocking on doors,” she added. “Yet the intimidation had an impact.”
Now, remember. This column ran in The New York Times. That’s a big audience, and these are some pretty serious claims.
“Mr. Trump’s endorsement, therefore, was no surprise,” she wrote. “Mr. Kemp had pulled off an incredible feat: Georgia’s population increased, but since 2012, the number of registered voters has decreased. He, like Mr. Trump, has been steadfast in riding the voter-fraud train, regardless of how often and thoroughly the claim has been debunked. His work has winnowed out minorities who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and so threaten the Republican stranglehold on Georgia.”
What we have here is a picture being painted on the national stage of two polar-opposite candidates for governor of Georgia.
While it is true that Abrams and Kemp couldn’t be more different, do we really need to permanently tag Abrams with the faults of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Kemp with the major missteps of Trump?
That’s a lot of baggage for either candidate to carry.
Hopefully, Georgians will be allowed to decide what’s best for the state’s future.
After all, it is our state, and we have to live here.