Abrams returns to campaign trail as she begins second bid for governor

Democrat Stacey Abrams speaks from a lectern in front of an IBEW office in Atlanta.
Democrat Stacey Abrams accepts the endorsement of several labor unions in Atlanta in her campaign for governor. (Sam Gringlas/WABE)

Stacey Abrams is back on the campaign trail.

The former Georgia House minority leader held her first in-person event of 2022 on Wednesday as she makes a second bid for governor.

Outside an IBEW union office in Atlanta, where the Georgia AFL-CIO and a slew of affiliated unions gathered to endorse her, Abrams said it felt good to be back.

“It’s a little chilly, but I’m happy to be here and I look forward to getting out and about across the state of Georgia,” she said.

Until now, Abrams has held off on in-person campaign events as omicron spreads. That’s a contrast from her potential Republican opponents, including Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who are locked in a primary battle and have been more actively campaigning. 

Abrams called Kemp’s legislative priorities election-year “gimmicks” that don’t do enough to address the challenges Georgia faces. She said Kemp’s proposed one-time pay raises for teachers and other state employees fall short of ensuring they’re supported long-term. And she criticized Kemp’s push to improve public safety by pursuing legislation to expand gun access.

“Now over the next few months, we’re going to see a lot of gimmicks,” she said. “Rather than the gimmicks that we’re seeing coming out of the governor’s office, we need a game plan.”

Abrams narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018. Since then, Georgia’s population has grown and more people have registered to vote. The state legislature also passed a sweeping new election law that critics say makes voting more difficult.

Last week, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta to push two federal voting rights bills that are currently stalled in Congress, saying they would combat the kind of restrictive voting measures that popped up in Georgia’s law. Despite a renewed effort from Biden to pass federal voting rights legislation, the two bills are headed toward defeat in the U.S. Senate.

Abrams acknowledged passing federal voting legislation might take a long time.

“I have the patience of Job, but I have the energy of Esther, meaning that we are going to fight to make it happen and we believe that it can happen,” she says. “And I’m proud of the work that’s going to happen on Capitol Hill to keep this issue front and center for every Georgian and every American.”

Abrams did not attend last week’s Biden speech, citing a scheduling conflict. And she says she’s not trying to separate herself from Biden. The Biden administration has been facing low approval numbers amid omicron, inflation and key campaign priorities stalled in Congress, setting up a difficult political environment for Democrats in 2022.

“I am a proud Democrat and President Joe Biden is my president,” she said. “I am proud to work with him on not only the issues facing us on voting rights, but I’m proud of the resources he has sent to Georgia.”

Abrams is running unopposed in her primary. Republican candidates will face off May 24.