Stacey Abrams & Andrew Gillum officially withdraw from historic races shaped by voter suppression, racism
According to Vox, Stacey Abrams formally ended her campaign to become the country’s first Black female governor in Georgia over the weekend. In a speech on Friday afternoon, Abrams acknowledged that her opponent, Brian Kemp, had a lead that was insurmountable in one of the most closely watched races of the midterm election season. “I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election,” Abrams said. “But to watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling.”
It is notable to point out that Abrams took great pains not to use the language of a concession, even though her speech was essentially a concession that Kemp had won the election. This is because Abrams believes, as do many people who paid attention to this election, that her opponent was able to obtain a victory by using the tools of voter suppression, particularly suppression of the Black vote. Kemp had refused to resign as secretary of state during the campaign, a position that oversees state elections.
According to Vanity Fair, Abrams labeled her loss as a “failure of democracy,” stating, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede… I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.” Abrams also announced the formation of a new group in Georgia, Fair Fight Georgia, which will be filing a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for “gross mismanagement of this election.”
According to NPR, Florida’s Andrew Gillum, who had originally conceded the race before a recount was ordered by the state, was also plagued by racist actions from his opponent, Ron Desantis, who at the outset of the election implored voters to not “monkey this up,” what some noted was a clear dog whistle to his racist base. Similarly to Abrams’ race, Gillum’s opponent played up his connection to Trump and relied on the state’s voter suppression tactics. Gillum also faced racist robocalls from white supremacist groups, even as his opponent tried to downplay the overt racism that was present in the race.
Gillum posted his concession to Facebook and told his supporters that he and his wife were not done fighting in a Twitter post featuring the two wearing Florida A&M apparel with their backs to the camera.
We are going to keep fighting. We will keep working. And in the end, I believe that we will win. I am so thankful to each and every one of you. pic.twitter.com/fWCKQysGmZ
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) November 17, 2018
Gillum also said in a Facebook video, “”R. Jai (Gillum’s wife) and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida… This has been the journey of our lives.”
Even though this pair lost their governor elections in hotly contested races in the South, it clearly has shown that they know how to get voters behind them with progressive politics, smart campaigns, and they are now two of the Democratic party’s brightest stars. They have positioned themselves as potential contenders in the 2020 race, possibly as part of a ticket who could take back the White House from this Donald Trump character.