Democrats say there’s room in their crowded presidential field for one more high-profile candidate: Stacey Abrams.
The Georgia Democrat, who became a national name in her gubernatorial bid last year, is pondering whether to run for the White House — or the Senate, where Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Progressives push for fossil subsidy repeal in spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) would love to have her take on Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.).
When Abrams's name was floated as a potential vice presidential pick for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE, who has yet to enter the race himself, some supporters were offended because they saw her as the politician who should be at the top of the ticket.
Some Democrats say she would add a degree of diversity to a race that at the top looks to be crowded with white men.
“Frankly, like many of us, she's looking at four white men — one who lost a Senate race, one who is new to national politics, one who refuses to register as a Democrat, and one who isn't even in the race — getting all the headlines and raising money,” said Democratic strategist Basil Smikle, who formerly served as executive director of the New York Democratic Party.
Smikle was referencing former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who lose a Senate race last year; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDOJ sues to block JetBlue-American Airlines partnership On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership MORE (D), who has won tons of publicity in recent weeks; Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Manchin fires warning shot on plan to expand Medicare Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (I-Vt.), who may be the Democratic primary’s front-runner as it stands; and Biden.
“Abrams has been great at shaking expectations about who can win.” Smikle said. “Should she enter, most candidates will be forced to rethink their strategy.”
If she gets in, Abrams wouldn’t be the only woman in the race or the only woman of color.
She would face stiff competition from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden taps big bank skeptic to for top regulatory post Harris unveils 0M commitment to new global health fund Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam MORE (D-Calif.), who, along with those four white men, is in the top tier of candidates. Harris raised $12 million in the first quarter.
But the top of the race has been dominated by white men more than many expected. And that may be providing an opening for Abrams.
Those close to her camp say she is weighing her options carefully.
Abrams is expected to make a decision on whether to run for the Senate by the end of the month, sources say. As she debates that race, she’s hearing a growing number of voices suggest that she aim higher.
After Abrams delivered the Democratic response to President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s State of the Union address earlier this year, Dan Pfeiffer, who served as a senior adviser to former President Obama and now co-hosts the popular "Pod Save America" podcast, tweeted, “Stacey Abrams should run for president.”
At this week’s National Action Network convention, she was greeted with chants of "Run, Stacey, run."
And in an interview on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” on Thursday, co-host Mika Brzezinski weighed in too. “You should jump in,” she told Abrams.
Democratic strategist Eddie Vale said there is momentum around a potential Abrams candidacy.
“I think there is definitely a lot of grass-roots and donor support for Abrams,” Vale said. “I think it's both driven by her qualifications — a long history and record in the legislature and the excitement of ... having another African-American woman in the race.”
Abrams late last month declared that “you don’t run for second place” during an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” throwing cold water on the idea of joining Team Biden.
She added that if she entered the race, she would be at the top of the ticket.
Not every Democrat is eager to see Abrams joint the race.
Some throw the same criticism at her that was thrown at O’Rourke: She lost the Georgia race, and Democrats should focus on those who won elections.
“This is becoming the theater of the absurd,” said one prominent Democratic strategist. “She couldn’t win a race for governor, but we think she can win the White House?
“We have now adopted the Trump standard: Experience and background doesn’t matter as long as you think you can win,” the strategist said. “You’re supposed to earn the right to run. You’re supposed to be qualified for it. And by the way, just because someone is more progressive doesn’t mean they’re going to be a better president.”
But with a Democratic field that has 17 candidates already and is growing by the day, Vale said there’s space for Abrams to join the fray.
“I think there's certainly room. With this many people already running, why the hell not?” he said. “Let's WWE Royal Rumble it and see who comes out on top as the best and strongest candidate.”