Abrams trounced her hand-picked primary opponent and came within 55,000 votes out of 4 million cast of defeating Republican Brian Kemp. Soon after, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer courted her to run for Senate. She declined but recruited the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Warnock, a Black man, won his January runoff by 2 points, a wider margin than his white colleague, Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, managed in a parallel contest.
Heading into 2022, Georgia Democrats are uniformly ceding the top of the ticket to Abrams, who is publicly mum but expected to run.
“She proved you don’t have to follow conventional wisdom,” McClellan said.
National Democrats have followed suit in Senate recruitment and endorsements. Senate Democrats’ campaign arm appears intent on being much more deliberate about endorsements in the 2022 cycle, rather than publicly anointing preferred candidates early.
Going into 2020, the committee backed North Carolina Democrat Cal Cunningham, a white moderate, over other contenders, including Smith. Cunningham, who admitted to an extramarital affair in the campaign’s final month, lost by 1.8 points, or nearly 100,000 votes. Beasley, then the sitting Supreme Court chief justice, lost her reelection bid in the same general election by just more than 400 votes.
Finney cited her focus group research that found white women becoming more open to backing Black women. Black female candidates, she said, can leverage public frustration with dysfunction. Voters “see women as collaborative leaders, and women of color are not seen as part of what’s already broken,” Finney said, even if they’ve held office already, because they are “natural outsiders.”
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