Dems feel 'a great deal of urgency' ahead of Georgia runoffs: Stacey Abrams

Abrams has led an effort to register thousands of voters in Georgia since 2018.

January 3, 2021, 12:58 PM

Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight, said Sunday that Democrats feel a "great deal of urgency" around Georgia's two runoff elections on Tuesday, which will determine the balance of power in the Senate just as President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

"We did very well in vote by mail, we did very well in early vote, but we know Election Day is going to be the likely high-turnout day for Republicans, so we need Democrats who haven't cast their ballots to turn out," Abrams told ABC's "This Week" Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

Recent polls show tight races between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff in their runoff and between GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the Rev. Raphael Warnock in the special election. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to replace former Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired at the end of 2019.

The races have drawn national attention, with both parties mobilizing their supporters. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will campaign in Savannah, Georgia, later Sunday. Both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden will stump in the state Monday, with Biden campaigning in Atlanta and Trump headlining a rally in Dalton.

More than 3 million Georgians have voted early, a record for statewide runoff elections in the Peach State. And, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 76,000 people registered to vote between the deadline for November's general election and the deadline for the runoffs. Abrams said they are "very certain" most of those are Democrats based on demographics.

"We haven't stopped reaching those voters. Millions of contacts have been made, thousands of new registrations have been held," she said. "We know that at least 100,000 people who did not vote in the general election are now voting in this election."

Raddatz pressed Abrams on Biden outperforming Democratic Senate candidates during the general election and asked if she thought that was because Biden's win was more about dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump. Abrams attributed the difference to voters' familiarity with Biden.

"Joe Biden's been a part of American politics for 40-plus years. And so for a number of new voters they're going to vote only when they're confident," she said. "That's why we spent this time over the last nine weeks educating voters about Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock."

"They've crisscrossed the state and we believe we've closed that distance and that the voters that are turning out now absolutely know them and they're standing by their sides and voting for them," she added.

Abrams also said that recent moves from Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocking $2,000 stimulus checks, are convincing Democratic voters of the importance of this election.

In a break from the Republican Party's fiscal conservatism, both Loeffler and Perdue have supported Trump's call for $2,000 stimulus checks, as have most Democrats. Both Democratic challengers have blasted them for the change in their stances.

"The hypocritical idea that it's okay to support business but not to support the business of government, the business of serving the people, has really galvanized voters. They feel the very real consequences of COVID-19 here in Georgia," she said.

Since losing in the 2018 gubernatorial election to Kemp, Abrams launched Fair Fight to combat voter suppression and encourage voter turnout. During the 2020 general election, Fair Fight and The New Georgia project helped register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state.

When Raddatz pressed Abrams on some comparisons between her refusal to concede in 2018 to Kemp and Trump's rhetoric about the 2020 election, Abrams said it was like comparing "apples and bowling balls."

Abrams alleged voter suppression following her loss to Kemp in 2018, who was then the Georgia secretary of state. She pointed to aggressive purging of voter rolls, long lines and faulty machines at polling places and the state preventing voters from registering as signs of voter suppression in her election.

"I pointed out that there were a series of actions taken that impeded the ability of voters to cast their ballots," Abrams said on "This Week" Sunday. "And in almost every one of those circumstances, the courts agreed, as did the state legislature."

"By contrast, President Trump has lost every single one of his challenges in the state of Georgia and he has no evidence," she added. "An audit -- the fourth, I think, of this election --found that there was zero fraud in our signature-match process. One person accidentally -- or inadvertently -- signed for her husband against the rules, but otherwise we know that the signatures match and that the process works."

Raddatz asked if Trump continuing to promote unsubstantiated claims of election fraud could hurt Republicans in the runoff elections, for instance, by decreasing turn out.

"I think it's always dangerous to undermine the integrity of elections without evidence," Abrams said. "When we challenged voter suppression we were able to prove it."

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