Abrams and O’Rourke give Democrats a chance and women a choice

ASSOCIATED PRESS/ John Amis and Carolyn Kaster

The stakes in next year’s midterm elections — which were already as high as an elephant’s eye — recently got an even bigger boost. The conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court appears ready to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that protects the right to abortion access — the right to choose.

If the high court does reverse Roe, abortion rights in about 20 states, mainly in the South and Mountain West will be under siege. The nullification would effectively end abortion access in some of these states. Then, the only way for women to safely and legally end unwanted pregnancies would be to travel for hundreds of miles. The crisis would add undue burdens on the health and wellbeing of millions of women. The burden that Roe was meant to eliminate.

Georgia and Texas have enacted draconian anti-abortion laws that have been targets of federal judicial scrutiny. Roe’s nullification would let both states ride roughshod over the right of women to make personal decisions about their own bodies. 

The rot starts at the top in both states. The governors, Brian Kemp in Georgia and Greg Abbott in Texas, led the efforts to quash the personal freedoms of the women who live there.

The last line of defense for these women may ultimately be the election of Democratic governors. Recently, there were developments that propelled Democratic prospects in gubernatorial contests forward into the midterm elections next year.

Former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams stepped up in Georgia to a rematch against incumbent Republican Gov. Kemp. Abrams’ candidacy got an added boost when former U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) declared his intention to challenge Kemp for the GOP nomination.

In Texas, actor Matthew McConaughey announced he would not run for governor, which clears the path for Democratic hopeful former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in his quest to deny Republican Gov. Abbott’s reelection.

Both Abrams and O’Rourke are Democrats with national stature, which should allow them to raise massive campaign war chests. Both candidates will become serious candidates for president if they win their 2022 gubernatorial races. 

Abrams is a force of nature and has been a forceful advocate for voter rights in the United States. She was mentioned often as a possible running mate for Joe Biden after he secured the Democratic nomination for president.

O’Rourke oozes with charisma and has become a national figure since 2018, when he ran a competitive campaign to unseat U.S. Senator Ted Cruz — who beat O’Rourke by only 2.6 percent of the vote in the reliably red state of Texas. Then, O’Rourke ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination. After two defeats, he badly needs a win to maintain his political viability.

In the upcoming races for governor, Abrams has an easier path to victory than O’Rourke.

She came very close to beating Kemp in 2018. Then Democrats won the trifecta in Georgia in 2020 with victories in the presidential race for Biden and wins in the U.S. Senate campaigns for Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. The divisive primary battle between Kemp and Perdue should serve her up with a bruised and bloodied opponent after the GOP primary in March.

Texas has been the Democratic white whale for a decade. The rising minority population and the stagnant Anglo population gives O’Rourke hope. The rise of the Latino vote makes it a tempting target for Democrats, but Republicans continue to dominate the state.

There are national implications in the outcome of the races in both states.

The battles there will demonstrate whether the threat to legal abortion is enough of a factor to motivate turnout among young voters who often sit out midterm elections. The battle over abortion rights might also tell us whether the issue will bring swing independent voters in big city suburbs like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston to Democratic candidates.

A Democratic victory in Texas would shake the foundations of the GOP nationally. With the shifting demographics there, it’s just a matter of time before the state goes Democratic — short of Republican gerrymandering. Biden won two key Sunbelt states in 2020, Georgia and Arizona — Texas might be next. 

If the Lone Star State goes into the Democratic column in 2024, it will be nearly impossible for Republicans to win an Electoral College majority. A Democratic win there would bring the entire rotting foundation of the national Republican Party crashing down. 

The primary battle between Kemp and Perdue will reveal how much sway former President Donald Trump still has over his party nationally. Kemp got on Trump’s bad side when the governor certified Biden’s victory in the Peachtree State. If Kemp keeps his seat, that may diminish Trump’s stranglehold on the party and discourage him from running for president in 2024. 

Democrats face tough political headwinds for the midterm elections. But wins by Abrams and O’Rourke would give Democrats a chance to shine nationally and women a choice in their personal lives.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon

Tags Beto O'Rourke Brad Bannon Brian Kemp David Perdue Democrats Donald Trump Greg Abbott Joe Biden Jon Ossoff Midterms elections Raphael Warnock Stacey Abrams Ted Cruz

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