Abrams Campaign Manager Laments Voter Suppression, Boasts of Minority Turnout Surge in Same Op-Ed

Stacey Abrams / Getty Images
April 20, 2020

Three months after Stacey Abrams said Democrats should not relitigate past elections, her 2018 gubernatorial campaign manager penned a New York Times op-ed boasting that the failed campaign showcased Abrams's unique ability to turn out minority voters.

Lauren Groh-Wargo touted Abrams's ability to drive black, Latino, and Asian-American voters to the polls at eye-popping levels, while also insisting that the race was marred by "voter suppression" that targeted minorities.

"Sure, turnout was up everywhere and at presidential levels in many states," she wrote. "But Georgia was the only state where midterm turnout was greater than presidential turnout in each group of voters of color. Any political scientist will tell you this is not something that happens. Ever."

She later added, "Despite a scourge of voter suppression, Stacey came within 55,000 votes of victory in 2018, and much has changed in Georgia since.... More than 600,000 Georgians have registered to vote since 2018; half of them are voters of color, and 40 percent of them are under age 30."

Abrams, who is on the shortlist of potential running mates for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, similarly cited her ability to increase minority turnout while also blaming her loss on voter suppression during an MSNBC interview in 2019. In January, the failed candidate told Democrats that they must focus on future elections, rather than races of the past. Groh-Wargo's piece is the latest salvo in the attempt to question the legitimacy of Georgia governor Brian Kemp (R.). In March, Abrams's voting-rights nonprofit Fair Fight Action affixed an asterisk to Kemp's name in an ad.

The claims of mass suppression stand in contrast to the election results. Nearly 4 million voters cast ballots in 2018—a surge of nearly 60 percent compared with the 2.5 million voters in the 2014 midterm. Overall voter registration rose more than 20 percent during Kemp's eight years as secretary of state, and Abrams won more votes in 2018 than any Democrat in Georgia history.

Abrams never officially conceded to Kemp, though she has repeatedly said Republicans had "stolen" the race. Despite her defeat, Abrams has maintained a national profile. She delivered the 2019 Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address and considered running for president.

Groh-Wargo's op-ed was published as Joe Biden searches for a running mate for November. The Georgia Democrat has been open about her desire for the position. Abrams, who has never held a position above House minority leader in the Georgia legislature, told Elle in an article published April 15 she would make an "excellent running mate."

"I have the capacity to attract voters by motivating typically ignored communities," she said. "I have a strong history of executive and management experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. I’ve spent 25 years in independent study of foreign policy."

The Biden camp has yet to announce a vice presidential pick, but Biden has pledged to select a woman as his runningmate.