COLUMBUS, Ga. — While President Biden and Democrats in Congress have scored some recent wins in Washington, Democrats in Georgia have happily accepted the credit.
“Georgia Democrats, we got the job done,” Stacey Abrams, the party’s gubernatorial candidate, told delegates at the party’s state convention this weekend. “We provided the voices and the votes that delivered these resources, and now we deserve a better life, a brighter future.”
It earns Georgia Democrats’ claim as the key players of the 2020 cycle: The state’s Electoral College votes went to a Democrat for the first time since 1992, and it elected two Democratic senators, giving the party control of the Senate. But the pressure has certainly mounted for 2022, raising expectations that the state, far from being solidly blue, might not deliver in 2022.
Behind the Democrats’ boasting at the convention, there is considerable anxiety among party activists. The success of the Democrats hinges on a combination of sky-high base turnout coupled with strong showings from moderate and independent voters in conservative-leaning counties. Now, with a racially diverse statewide ticket and more funding and manpower than the state party has ever seen, the party supported both its current slate and its strategy from last cycle.
Riding a wave of recent legislative victories on climate and health care, along with a boost from President Biden’s student debt relief plan, politicians at the Georgia Democratic State Convention this weekend played the part of their voters. to secure those victories in Washington.
One of two Georgian senators elected in 2020, Raphael Warnock is running this year for a full term against former University of Georgia football icon Herschel Walker. On Saturday, in a packed convention hall 100 miles southwest of Atlanta, Warnock joined the state’s top Democratic candidates and elected officials to convince party loyalists that the 2022 midterms are a repeat of the last cycle. electoral.
Mr. Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and the first black Democrat to represent Georgia in the Senate, focused his speech on the policies Democrats passed with a slim majority in the Senate and his effort to push Mr. Biden to take action on student loan debt. After those victories, he said, Democrats need time to accomplish even more.
“I believe we have begun to shape the future that encompasses all of our children. But that work is not done yet,” Warnock told the large crowd of delegates, elected officials and supporters who gathered Saturday, imploring them to organize in their communities to participate in the same large number of people who elected him and Jon Ossoff for the position. Senate in 2021. “I’m glad you’re in this room,” he said. “But the work happens outside of this room.”
The convention kicked off a 10-week stretch of campaigning and voter mobilization efforts that will determine the fate of the party in the November midterm elections and test whether the party’s victories during the 2020 presidential election and Senate runoffs in the US were either unique to the state or the beginning of a trend toward blue.
Among those with big Democratic gains is Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a 15-term incumbent whose district is a prime target for Republicans under new lines that make it more competitive. His Republican challenger is Chris West, a lawyer and first-time candidate who campaigned on a strongly conservative platform and described Bishop as out of touch with voters in the heavily rural district, which stretches from the Florida-Georgia line to the center of the state.
Mr. Bishop said he did not think voters in his district would think of him as “out of touch” or deny that he has been “very up close and personal” with constituents. He singled out his staff and called them his “eyes and ears” on the district. When asked if that would be enough to set him apart, he highlighted the decades he spent in both the Georgia statehouse and the US House of Representatives and criticized West for having “no legislative experience.”
As Georgia’s GOP candidates pummel Democrats on the economy and link them to Biden’s low approval ratings, Democrats used Saturday’s convention to highlight the contrast between their policies and those of the Republicans, especially on access to abortion and the preservation of democracy.
Ms. Abrams praised her running mates, calling Georgia’s statewide candidate slate “the most extraordinary candidacy Georgia has ever produced.”
He added, “She looks like Georgia and she sounds like Georgia, she knows Georgia.”