It’s been 28 years since the critical battleground – and reliably red – state of Georgia gave its 16 electoral votes to a Democratic president.
But like Cindy McCain in Arizona, the work of one woman has largely been credited for Joe Biden’s ability to likely flip the state from red to blue for the first time since Bill Clinton did, in 1992.
Last night, when news broke that the 77-year-old had closed in on – and then surpassed – US President Donald Trump’s lead in the southern state, it wasn’t him that celebrities, activists and voters took to Twitter to thank.
Their gratitude was instead directed at former minority leader of the Georgia House, Stacey Abrams.
The 46-year-old, who became the first black woman to win the Democratic nomination for governor of the Peach State in 2018, was briefly considered as a possible running mate by Biden.
“I wouldn’t say I ran for it,” the Abrams told Politico, of being on Biden’s shortlist for Vice President.
“I’m from a place and a region and I personally inhabit a race and a gender that will not receive due consideration if we do not put ourselves forward.
“When I was pushing for Georgia to be considered as a [swing] state, I could not assume that people would look at the numbers and see us and know we were viable.
“As a black woman, especially one from the south, I could not presume that I would get the benefit of the doubt. We’re not presumed to be the natural inheritors and natural occupants of these offices.
“And if I were to diminish my capacity or to declaim the possibility – I’m not doing it just for myself, I’m doing it for every other woman of colour, every other young black woman who has never seen this as a possibility.”
And while she lost the tight race for governor to Republican Brian Kemp, Abrams has worked since 2013 to fight voter suppression and register people of colour to vote, having registered a staggering 800,000 new voters in two years through Fair Fight Action, her progressive election reform organisation.
Political science professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, Andra Gillepsie, told ABC News Abrams deserves “a lot of credit” because she has built the infrastructure in Georgia that allowed Democrats to connect with and mobilise “a vast pool of untapped Democratic voters”.
Donors not just to Fair Fight, but the New Georgia Project, which Abrams founded while she was still in state legislature, include labour unions and former New York mayor Michael R Bloomberg.
“Stacey Abrams had the foresight to see the demographic changes, and so she started to create the organisational infrastructure that would actually put the Democrats in place to be able to move to identify, register and mobilise new voters,” Professor Gillepsie said.
“She’s been laying the groundwork for this and doing a lot of behind the scenes work in the party for years to convince the DNC that Georgia was a fertile place to plant and to invest.”
In a tweet on Friday night, Abrams wrote that her “heart is full”, thanking a bevy of activists, organisations, volunteers and voters in Georgia for helping to “create this new Georgia”.
“I am so grateful for your contributions in making Georgia a pivotal battleground state. Vice President Biden now leads in the race for Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes. Without your faith, this would not have been imaginable,” she said in a video accompanying the tweet.
“Together, we have changed the course of our state for the better.”
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