Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks during the National Action Network Convention in New York, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Stacey Abrams, at one point, was a media darling.
She lost the gubernatorial race to Brian Kemp, complained about it despite the fact that all of her complaints were based on problems caused by Democrats rather than Republicans, and stayed in the spotlight enough to be considered a candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2020.
Around the same time, she was apparently also being considered as a Vice Presidential pick for Joe Biden. When asked about it, she told the kind, reasonable people on The View that she wasn’t playing second fiddle to anyone. She then suggested she would enter the 2020 Democratic primary and offer Biden a VP pick.
See, at that point, Abrams was keeping her options open. She was getting the spotlight. She was into the idea of being loved by the media — it was something she hadn’t gotten when she was running for governor, mostly because the media at the time was infatuated with Beto O’Rourke.
But, she didn’t enter the Senate race. That’s essentially coming down to two Republicans at the moment, and depending on turnout, it could be Rep. Doug Collins versus incumbent Kelly Loeffler, or it could be one of those two versus a Democrat who currently doesn’t have a lot of name recognition. Abrams is nowhere to be seen there.
And there is a reason why. I laid it out about a year ago.
If she were to run for Senate and lose, she’ll then have lost two statewide races and her career is basically over by the time Kemp runs for re-election. If she runs for Senate and wins, it would piss off Georgia Democrats if she quit that job less than halfway into her term to run again. She’ll essentially be clearing the field of statewide competitors three times in four years, which prevents the Democrats from building up a backbench of fresh faces to lead the party.
The alternative if she were to run for Senate and win is that she serves a full six-year term and then runs in 2024 against Kemp’s successor, but by that time she’s been out of state politics long enough that a new face would be better prepared to take on the GOP.
Abrams has always eyed the chance to take Kemp on again. But now, she’s actively lobbying for Vice President under Joe Biden, a job she explicitly said she didn’t want. What changed?
Right now, we’re just a little under halfway through Kemp’s first term as Governor. He’s not done a bad job, and has even scored some victories along the way that people didn’t expect of him. But the impact of the novel coronavirus on his legacy isn’t something we can measure yet. Abrams, in trying to get the Vice Presidential pick, is trying to put herself into a situation that is hard to come out a loser in.
Biden is an extraordinarily weak candidate. A loss in 2020 is on him. It’s not his election to win so much as it’s Donald Trump’s to lose, and I don’t think that Trump is in the danger of losing a lot of his opponents think he’s in. Again, COVID-19 can impact that, but I suspect the needle won’t move as much as people want to believe.
So, if she is the VP pick under Biden and Biden loses, it doesn’t really hurt Abrams. She was his VP candidate and the boost in media coverage keeps her going as a rising national figure in the Democratic Party. She can leverage that to run against Kemp in 2022. However, if Biden wins and she’s the VP, then she doesn’t have to worry about Georgia Governor. She will be next in line to run for President for the Democratic Party. It will be a big step up for her.
The risk, though, is for both Biden and Abrams. For Biden, he’d be picking a candidate solely because she is a black woman with some media hype. She hasn’t won a statewide race and hasn’t really held anything other than a state legislative office. Her media hype, as I mentioned about a week ago, is largely based on white guilt. They paid attention to Beto O’Rourke and gave her nothing. This is their chance to “make it right,” but she doesn’t have any real credentials.
The risk for her is that she can’t guarantee him Georgia in the process, and if she essentially loses that state twice, then there is little chance she has a career in politics beyond being someone’s spokesperson. She just isn’t qualified as it is, and with a track record of nothing but losses, it’s hard to imagine the Democrats would want a repeat loser to continue to be their go-to person.
She is running a very dangerous game, but she is doing so because it’s her last play. The best-case scenario for her, in all honestly, is all this media hype pushing her to be the pick and then Biden ends up going with someone else. She’ll have the spotlight still and can use that in two years to run against Kemp. It may be her last chance to have a shot at power. Otherwise, her career is pretty much over.