Politically Georgia

Georgia 2018: Abrams nabs endorsement from Barnes

Democrat Stacey Abrams earned the endorsement Wednesday of her former opponent’s highest-profile supporter.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes endorsed Abrams’ campaign for governor, calling her a progressive who can also work with GOP leaders to “harness the full potential of Georgia.”

"Too many have made this election about a choice between working with Republicans to maintain our AAA bond rating or fighting for access to education, health care, and jobs," said Barnes. "Stacey Abrams has already proven she can work across the aisle to do both, and has the experience and vision to strengthen Georgia."

Barnes, who served from 1999-2003 and lost a comeback bid in 2010, was an early supporter of former state Rep. Stacey Evans. After her decisive primary victory, Abrams has quickly consolidated her party’s support.

Republicans, meanwhile, are tangled in a bitter nine-week runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The vote to decide the GOP nominee is on July 24.

Abrams has run throughout the campaign as an “unapologetic progressive” but she’s also emphasized the economy and public education. As the GOP infighting escalates, she has set a town hall meeting Wednesday focused on k-12 issues.

For Abrams, the Barnes announcement closes a tense chapter between the two Democrats. Barnes was a mentor to Evans, and his endorsement the Cobb Democrat a year ago gave her campaign an important stamp of legitimacy from a party leader.

At the time, Abrams said her strategy of energizing core Democratic voters rather than trying to flip suburban moderates is the best path for the party to reclaim the state’s top job for the first time since Barnes lost in 2002.

In an interview then, she told the AJC that aiming for moderates tries to “recreate a coalition that has not really existed since the late ‘90s” and that her campaign would aim to mobilize a more racially-diverse influx of new voters that have reshaped the state.

Democrats resoundingly supported her strategy, which included calls for gun control, an expansion of Medicaid and new tax credits for lower-income families. She defeated Evans by more than 50 percentage points, winning voters in both liberal enclaves and more moderate suburbs.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.