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The Stacey Abrams primary: Democrats weighing 2020 runs are rushing to Georgia

Stacey Abrams, the 44-year-old progressive vying to become the nation's first black female governor in Georgia, has b...

Posted: Jul 27, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Jul 27, 2018 9:31 AM

Stacey Abrams, the 44-year-old progressive vying to become the nation's first black female governor in Georgia, has become a magnet for Democrats considering presidential bids in 2020.

Four Democrats who endorsed Abrams for governor are already planning Georgia trips this fall and using their email lists to raise money for Abrams.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will travel to Georgia in October to campaign with Abrams, a Gillibrand aide said, and will raise money for her through Gillibrand's email list.

California Sen. Kamala Harris sent a fundraising email for Abrams on Wednesday and campaigned with her before the primary. Now, a Harris aide said, she is planning a trip to Georgia ahead of November's election.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was in Georgia last week for events with Abrams and for the Democratic National Committee. A Booker aide said he will return to the state ahead of the election and "will continue to be helpful" in Abrams' effort.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who had already endorsed Abrams and this month cut her a $5,000 check through his political action committee according to an aide, sent a fundraising email for her Thursday.

"Stacey is a bold leader, and hard work is in her bones. She knows what it will take to bring progress to Georgia," Biden's Thursday email for Abrams said. "But she's running in a tough state, and I learned a long time ago that you better run scared if you want to win."

A Biden aide said a Georgia visit to campaign with Abrams is "absolutely under consideration" as Biden sets his fall schedule.

And Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed Abrams. While a Sanders aide said Sanders' fall travel schedule is still being determined, Our Revolution, the offshoot of his 2016 presidential run, sent a fundraising email for Abrams on Wednesday.

"Now is when we need to challenge their hate with Stacey's hope for a bold, progressive Georgia, where Stacey Abrams has a chance to be the first black woman elected governor in our nation's history," said Nina Turner, the president of Our Revolution, in the Wednesday fundraising email.

That Abrams is attracting national attention is partially because of who she is and partially because of Georgia's growing importance in Democratic politics.

In the 2016 race between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Sanders attracted young progressives while Clinton dominated with minorities. Abrams is both and a dynamic speaker. If she wins, she would likely be part of the party's vice presidential conversation in 2020.

Then there are the dynamics of the Georgia governor's race. Abrams is facing Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp -- a Trump-endorsed and at times bombastic candidate who in television ads pointed a shotgun at a teenager attempting to take his daughter on a date and said he would use his pickup truck to "round up criminal illegals."

The two have made the race a potential preview of 2020. And the theory underlying Abrams' campaign -- which her aides argue is backed up by strong turnout in the primary -- is that her appeal to progressives and investment in reaching voters Democrats had ignored in previous races -- is one that, if successful, could shift how Democrats approach Southern races from a Bill Clinton-era mindset and also prove instructive for 2020.

Trump on Wednesday attacked Abrams on Twitter while praising Kemp for his victory in Tuesday's GOP primary runoff. "Now go win against the open border, crime loving opponent that the Democrats have given you. She is weak on Vets, the Military and the 2nd Amendment," Trump wrote of Abrams.

The same day, Harris responded to Trump praising Kemp and criticizing Abrams on Twitter by forwarding an Abrams fundraising email to her own list.

"Stacey Abrams is a fearless progressive fighter running to become the first Black woman elected governor in American history," Harris wrote. "She was just attacked by Donald Trump this morning, and I'm lending her our email list for the day to talk about how important this election is."

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