Stacey Abrams helps raise $3.6m in two days for crucial Georgia Senate runoffs

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<span>Photograph: Brandon Bell/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Brandon Bell/Reuters

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic former candidate for Georgia governor who is credited with motivating voters against Donald Trump in the traditionally red state, has helped raise more than $3.6m in only two days for two crucial US Senate runoffs to be contested in January.

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A spokesperson for Fair Fight Action, part of Abrams’ voter education and advocacy efforts, announced the achievement on Sunday.

While the closely-watched presidential election in Georgia has yet to be decided, with President-elect Joe Biden holding a slim lead over Donald Trump and the race heading to a recount, the 5 January Senate runoffs involving Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are drawing further attention – and massive political resources.

If Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are beaten, the Senate would be balanced 50-50, making Kamala Harris, as vice-president, the tie-breaking vote and thereby ending Republican control of the chamber.

Democrats were disappointed not to take the Senate outright this year but Ossoff and Warnock performed well enough to force run-offs in Georgia.

This is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to healthcare and access to justice

Stacey Abrams

“This is going to be the determining factor of whether we have access to healthcare and access to justice in the United States,” Abrams, a former Georgia house minority leader, said on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“Those are two issues that will make certain people turn out. We know this is going to be a hard fight, it’s going to be a competitive fight [and Ossoff and Warnock] are two men who are going to make certain that Joe Biden has the leadership, the support and the congressional mandate that he needs to move this country forward.”

Abrams believes it is an “anachronistic notion” that her party cannot win in a state that has two Republican senators, a Republican governor in Brian Kemp and a Republican-controlled legislature. The most recent Democratic senator for Georgia was the former governor Zell Miller, who retired in 2005.

“We’re so proud of the work the Biden campaign did in Georgia, but we’re incredibly excited about the work that’s been done on the ground for the last decade to bring us to this point, and we’re so excited to be going blue,” Abrams said.

The support of Georgia’s black voters has been key to Biden’s strength there, but Abrams said it would take a diverse coalition to seat two Democrats in the Senate.

“We began early on saying that this is not about black and white, this is about pulling together a coalition of people of colour, of the poor, of the disadvantaged, of the marginalised, and being consistent with our engagement, not waiting for an election to meet them, and certainly not waiting till the end of an election to acknowledge their value,” Abrams said.

“We’ve been doing this work from the very beginning, but I also want to acknowledge the very strong work of progressive whites, who’ve been working to help build these opportunities as well.

“We are not a majority minority country yet. And that means that this is a coalition that has to be built and sustained across racial lines, across demography, across geography, because our mission should be the protection of our democracy, and the action of progress for all.”

Abrams’ own run at the Georgia governor’s mansion was unsuccessful, her defeat by fewer than 55,000 votes in the 2018 election to Kemp after an acrimonious contest marred by controversy.

Kemp, then Georgia’s secretary of state, retained his position through the race, effectively overseeing his own election and declaring himself the winner. Additionally, an investigation found Kemp had improperly purged 340,000 voters from the rolls.

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Abrams, who never officially conceded, and who was considered by Biden as a potential running mate, embarked on a huge voter engagement effort, determined 2020 would bring a turnaround in Democratic fortunes in Georgia.

“There have been dozens of organisations and hundreds of people who’ve made this their primary mission,” Abrams said.

“I’ve been privileged to be able to bring to bear resources both before the election of 2018 and the $40m we were able to spend in 2018 to build a Democratic infrastructure that may not have yielded a victory for me but certainly yielded a victory this week.

“The people who did that work will be hard at work to ensure that we continue our streak and that we deliver two US Senate seats to join Joe Biden in January.”