Democrats pour energy into turning georgia blue — again buzzjour c gastronomie vitam

A flock of prominent Democratic figures and outside groups have rushed south this week to boost Democrat Stacey Abrams’ historic candidacy for governor of Georgia, where opportunities to support a longtime rising star and flip a coveted state have converged in one of the top campaigns of 2018.

Abrams, the former state House minority leader seeking to become Georgia’s first Democratic governor since 2003 and the first black female governor of any state ever, is seeking to leverage Georgia’s changing population to turn the state blue this fall. She is getting help from inside and outside the state, counting Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton among her endorsers. Democratic mainstays including the AFL-CIO, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List combined forces for a weekend get-out-the-vote rally in Atlanta, which also drew in former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Abrams has a primary to win against state Rep. Stacey Evans, who has attracted powerful supporters of her own inside Georgia’s factional Democratic politics, before getting a shot at the governorship. But Abrams’ Democratic support reflects the hope allies have pinned on her and on her state, which the party has hoped for years to contest more strongly.

“If you’re going to flip Georgia, it’s going to take months and months of grass-roots organizing and national visibility as well as surrogates coming in,” said Quentin James, a cofounder of Collective PAC, which supports African-American candidates. James added: “Georgia still is a heavily Republican-dominated state in terms of its current elected officials. That level of muscle is critically needed, not just for the primary, but also to build the kind of momentum and energy needed between now and Election Day.”

Democrats have grown obsessed with notching a major statewide win in Georgia in recent years. At the beginning of the 2014 election cycle, the party got behind two top-tier candidates: Jason Carter, a state senator and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, and Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. Democrats hoped the name-brand candidates could carry a changing state, where the black population had grown from 27 percent to 32 percent of the population over a quarter-century.

But Nunn, the Senate nominee, and Carter, who ran for governor, were both trounced. Gov. Nathan Deal and Sen. David Perdue each won 53 percent of the vote, and while Clinton got more votes in Georgia than Barack Obama ever had, she still lost by more than 5 points in 2016. Republicans remain confident that Democrats’ dreams of winning Georgia are still fantasies.

The Republican gubernatorial primary has been chaotic. Deal is term-limited, and polling suggests that none of the handful of candidates will clinch the 50 percent support needed to win the nomination and avoid a runoff. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle polls at the head of the field, with support from prominent lawmakers and the National Rifle Association. But Secretary of State Brian Kemp has run an aggressive campaign, with ads focused on the Second Amendment and his Ford pickup truck, which he says he has “just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.”

If she wins the primary, Abrams is hoping to capitalize on Republican infighting and the state’s changing demography. Abrams’ pledge to energize infrequent voters and motivate them to turn out in November has spurred a host of allies to assist her campaign.

MoveOn Political Action last week said it launched a set of five different digital ads in support of Abrams ahead of the primary. Let America Vote, the voting-rights organization founded by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, recently held a remote phone bank event for Abrams. BlackPAC, the super PAC focused on turning out African-American voters, has spent over $840,000 on primary ads in support of Abrams, according to Advertising Analytics.

Abrams’ campaign itself has invested heavily in ground-level organizing and identifying new voters. Evans’ campaign, meanwhile, has taken the more traditional approach of focusing on advertising. As of Friday, Evans’ campaign spent over $1.5 million on advertising while Abrams’ campaign has spent over $470,000, according to Advertising Analytics.

And while national Democratic figures have been practically unanimous in backing Abrams, the local scene has been more contested, with three of Georgia’s four Democratic congressmen and a wide array of Georgia groups and figures backing Abrams, but a number of figures — including former Gov. Roy Barnes, former Sen. Max Cleland and a dozen members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus — opting for Evans. The Georgia Federation of Teachers has also been playing a major role in boosting Evans’ campaign, according to Evans campaign senior adviser Seth Clark.

Public polling has shown Abrams with a comfortable double-digit lead over Evans, though Evans’ campaign said last week that it believed she was closing the gap. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has led the polls for the Republican nomination, but he would need a majority of votes in the crowded GOP primary to avoid a runoff for the nomination.

“I’m talking in planned situations at events but I’m also leaving no opportunity undone to talk to people about why I think Stacey Evans can move this state in the right direction,” said Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, who is supporting Evans.

But Abrams appears to have more allies, from Sen. Kamala Harris to Justin Fairfax, the recently elected African-American lieutenant governor of Virginia, who campaigned for Abrams recently. They are seeking not only to elect their candidate, but also to undo tropes about whether black officeholders, and especially black women, can find success in the South.

“I think it’s extremely hard to be a black Democrat in the South and win statewide. It’s even more difficult to be a black Democrat and female and win in the South,” said former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, who is backing Abrams.