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Stacey Abrams puts muscle into Georgia runoffs

Stacey Abrams is getting heaps of praise for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE’s apparent narrow victory in Georgia, a state Democrats have long dreamed of winning.

More than a week after Election Day, the Peach State has yet to be officially be called for either candidate — a by-hand recount is forthcoming — but Biden’s roughly 14,000-vote lead has been lauded by Democrats, with much of the praise being directed toward Abrams.

After coming within 55,000 votes of becoming the state's first Black governor in 2018, Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, a nonprofit voting rights group dedicated to fighting voter suppression and promoting voter participation nationwide, but specifically in Georgia.

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Over a third of Georgia is Black, and it's believed that Black voters were disproportionately disenfranchised when the state conducted the largest voter purge in U.S. history in 2017, an action that Democrats believe cost Abrams the gubernatorial election the following year.

New Georgia Project — a voting rights nonprofit that Abrams founded before running for governor — and other like-minded groups successfully reregistered thousands of Georgians who were purged, and also registered hundreds of thousands of Georgians who had previously not voted.

At the center of Georgia’s transformation from solidly red to battleground has been relational organizing — an integral part of Abrams’s ethos — something that she does as well as anyone in the country.

Left-leaning Forward Majority’s National Political Director China Dickerson said that the success of Abrams and other voting rights groups stems from building relationships with the voters whom they want to elevate.

“They want to talk to the voters, and because they talk to the voters, they know the voters,” Dickerson told The Hill. “I think too often, and we saw this cycle … [with] the polling, we do a lot of treating individuals, like machines, like robots.”

Groups like Fair Fight Action and New Georgia Project value the quality of the relationships over quantity, Dickerson explained, noting that it’s an area that the Democratic Party needs to improve.

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“They didn’t just do this, this cycle,” Dickerson said. “This has been a relationship building effort that grassroots organizations — including Stacey Abrams — [are] good at doing.”

Marcus Ferrell, who was the former chief of staff for New Georgia Project and former deputy campaign manager for Abrams, called the former gubernatorial candidate a “genius” when it comes to meeting voters where they are.

“Stacey understands that you have to talk to Georgians … in a language that they understand and an authentic manner that they understand.”

Dickerson noted that hiring “people within the community to talk to the people within the community,” has always been a priority for Abrams.

“She fundamentally understands that more than, I think, a lot of Democrats,” Dickerson said.

As a result, Abrams and company not only potentially turned Georgia blue in the general election, but have put both of the state’s Senate seats up for grabs in runoff elections.

Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock will square off against GOP Sens. David PerdueDavid PerdueFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight House Democrat accuses Air Force of attempting to influence Georgia runoff races Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns MORE and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight House Democrat accuses Air Force of attempting to influence Georgia runoff races Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns MORE, respectively, on Jan. 5.

A disastrous down-ballot showing for Democrats on Election Day has forced the party to put its hope of having control of the Senate on sweeping the pair of races.

Abrams quickly turned her attention to the runoff races, announcing Monday that she and Fair Fight Action had already raised $6 million for Ossoff and Warnock. 

In a tweet, she thanked Georgians saying that “together, we have changed the course of our state for the better.”

“But our work is not done,” Abrams added.

 

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Regardless of what happens in the runoffs, it's speculated that Abrams will take a leap forward politically. Possibilities that have been floated include chairing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and making another run at Georgia’s governorship.

“I think Stacey will do what she feels like she can do and still maintain her way of doing things,” Dickerson said. “So, if [for example], being DNC chair means that she is not able to continue … relational organizing and grassroots and the being on the ground, she's not going to do it.”

— Updated at 5:06 p.m.