Top Georgia Democrats said Tuesday the party is poised to capitalize on the state’s battleground status to win big in 2020 from the statehouse to the White House.
At the Democratic Party of Georgia’s state dinner, U.S. Senate candidates both confirmed and contemplating mingled with grassroots activists and donors. Legislative leaders touted newly-elected members in the state House and Senate, and Stacey Abrams said Republicans in the Georgia were given an “eviction notice” ahead of next year’s election.
Democratic Party of Georgia chair and State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) said the state party is the stronger than it has ever been and is prepared to continue the work to turn Georgia blue in next year’s election.
“We’re going to elect strong Democrats who will fights for our values in the state House, in the state Senate and communities across Georgia,” she said. “We're going to send two strong Democratic Senators to Washington because they need some help… We're also going to deliver 14 electoral college votes for the next Democratic president of the United States, because we all know that the road to the White House is paved right here through Georgia.”
The campaigns of three candidates, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, contributed to the evening’s dinner, and several lawmakers and leaders have endorsed candidates in recent months.
On and off the stage, conversation swirled about the two U.S. Senate seats that will be on next November’s ballot.
In the primary race to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Sarah Riggs Amico, Jon Ossoff, Ted Terry and Teresa Tomlinson snapped smiling selfies and worked the thousand-person ballroom before and during dinner.
Matt Lieberman, the only declared candidate in the special election for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), surveyed the room from a back corner before mingling with activists and attendees after dinner.
Several could-be candidates who have been floated for the race were also there, like State Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) and DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.
But the message delivered by Rev. Raphael Warnock early in the evening commanded rapt attention from the crowd and added more fuel to a long-burning fire that could propel him to a run for Senate.
“There is an attack on the very soul of our country and all that it represents,” the Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor intoned. “The fact that we have someone occupying the White House who don't seem to mind – in fact is actively courting – the help of foreign adversaries to rig our election, that's a scandal and a scar on the soul of America.”
His fifteen-minute remarks outlined his pathway to the church, paid homage to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), wove in an anecdote about Muhammad Ali and closed by saying a vote “is a kind of prayer.”
The keynote speaker was Stacey Abrams, the one-time gubernatorial nominee who parlayed her electoral defeat into a national platform for voting rights with Fair Fight.
“In 2018, I did not become the governor of Georgia,” Abrams said. “I’m aware of that, despite what Breitbart believes, I can count.”
Abrams went on to count obstacles voters faced at the polls, like the number of people who called the party’s voter protection hotline and the average wait time some minority voters experienced in November’s election. She finished with a message to Republicans in office, who “got an eviction notice” after 2018.
“I can count to 2020, because that’s when they’re getting out of here,” she said.
But the most important task, Abrams advises, is the 2020 census. While Democrats are out canvassing votes, she said they also need to be canvassing for the Census to make sure people are fairly counted.
“You see, the Trump administration is doing its level best to erase certain ones of us from the narrative of what is America,” she said. “Because, you know, if they don't count us, then they think we don't count. If they don't count us, then they think it won't matter.”