Among the many, many surprises this year has been the state of Georgia. Joe Biden is leading there as of this writing, and both Senate seats up for grabs will be decided by run-offs in January. A huge part of the credit for turning the state, if not bright blue then solid purple, goes to Stacey Abrams.
Abrams, 46, served 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives and ran for governor in 2018. When she lost that race by 55,000 votes, she accused the state’s election department of “gross mismanagement.” In the aftermath of that disappointment, she built an infrastructure to increase voter registration and turn out. Her own group Fair Fight, is expressly dedicated to funding and training voter protection teams in 20 battleground states.
A Changing South
An estimated 800,000 Georgia residents registered to vote thanks to her efforts, according to the New York Times. Many pundits think these new voters made the key difference in the outcome in the state.
It’s hard to overestimate the magnitude of the shift we’ve just witnessed. Georgia hasn’t gone for a Democrat in a presidential election since Bill Clinton’s 1992 win. Before that it was Jimmy Carter’s 1980 run against Ronald Reagan.
“My heart is full,” Abrams texted this week as Biden’s numbers inched past Trump’s. “Georgia, let’s shout out those who’ve been in the trenches and deserve the plaudits for change.”
The humility in her statement masks considerable leadership and organizational gifts. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels.
Stacey Abrams, Novelist
With degrees from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and Yale University School of Law, Abrams has long worked for initiatives to broaden economic power and build equity in Georgia and throughout the region. Her work has taken place at the same time that the South has seen significant cultural shifts, with the influx of professionals from across the country.
“The playbook she popularized took root — a combination of winning back metro suburbanites and registering new voters in Black, Latino, and Asian-American communities,” says the New York Times.
But Abrams isn’t all seriousness and strategy. She’s a huge Star Trek fan, and a published romantic suspense novelist, with 8 titles under her nom de plume Selena Montgomery. Abrams’ next book—the thriller While Justice Sleeps next year—will come out next year, this time under her own name, according to Forbes.
“A decade ago, I wrote the first draft of a novel that explored an intriguing aspect of American democracy — the lifetime appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Abrams said in a statement. “Drawing on my own background as a lawyer and politician, While Justice Sleeps weaves between the Supreme Court, the White House, and international intrigue to see what happens when a lowly law clerk controls the fate of a nation.”
As a woman who kind of, sort of controlled the fate of a nation this past week, she knows what she’s writing about.