Abrams memo reveals campaign strategy, warns of ‘Evans-Fort’ alliance

Stacey Abrams is a Democratic candidate for governor. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)
Stacey Abrams is a Democratic candidate for governor. (REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)



The three-page document provides a glimpse of Abrams’ playbook

Democrat Stacey Abrams is banking on her campaign for governor's ground-game but stockpiling cash to combat a volley of likely negative attacks. She's wary of a potential bid by Vincent Fort for lieutenant governor and "racially reductive" media narratives.

And she’s confident she’s building an unassailable “structural advantage” over former state Rep. Stacey Evans.

A three-page memo by Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo to the candidate’s top supporters provides a glimpse of Abrams’ strategy ahead of the May primary vote.

The former Georgia House minority leader's campaign has been building out its field operation, Groh-Wargo writes, "not solely running a 'raise and hold' for television advertising model that has been the losing formula for Georgia campaigns."

The February 2nd, 2018 edition of Georgia Legislative Week in Review with Mark Neisse, Maya T. Prabhu and the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

“Too many campaigns in Georgia have neglected laying the necessary groundwork for a robust grassroots effort in the early months of campaigns,” read her memo, “and when investments in a ground game have been made in the late summer of the election year it has been too little, too late.”

Her team is aggressively pushing back against what it calls false equivalencies that are “reducing the contest to a race between ‘two Staceys,’” which it said is “not only inaccurate it is racially reductive.”

It highlights areas in which the campaign said it will highlight how Evans “has abandoned core Democratic values and has left Georgians less safe and secure.”

That includes Evans' B+ rating with the National Rifle Association and her vote in support of Gov. Nathan Deal's Opportunity School District, which Evans has said she regrets. She also points to what she contends is a gulf in experience between the two rivals. 

Abrams' strategists are carefully watching Fort, a vocal Abrams critic with ties to Evans' and her advisers. The memo raises the prospect that he may "serve as their spokesperson on negative attacks against Abrams" if he runs for Georgia's No. 2 job.

“In sum: the Evans campaign, and potentially the Evans-Fort ticket, may attempt to portray Abrams as a radical, corrupt, Atlanta politician,” it read.

“This would be a cynical, divisive move representing a return to the failed strategies of the past, not the new, forward looking, inclusive campaign Stacey Abrams is running.”

ExploreRead the entire memo here

Here are some other highlights:

  • The Abrams campaign expects black voters to account for roughly 65 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, and that black women will make up the plurality at about 45 percent.
  • The campaign says Abrams beats Evans in "all demographic and geographic groups" in its polling.
  • Abrams will report roughly $450,000 in cash on hand this week after raising about $1.7 million over the last seven months. Fundraising hit an "inflection point" in December with $300,000 in contributions; nearly $500,000 has come in this month.
  • It claims to have reached nearly 600,000 voters by phone, text or door and signed up about 4,000 volunteers.

Keep reading other stories about Georgia’s elections from this week:

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More: Georgia conservatives fear a Trump betrayal on immigration 

More: How far Georgia will go to snare Amazon remains a mystery 

More: Deadline Day: What to watch as Georgia candidates file campaign cash  

More: A cutting new fight over paper ballots erupts in Georgia gov race  

More: Georgia Senate condemns NFL ahead of Atlanta’s Super Bowl date  

More: Evans faces criticism for ‘tone deaf’ MLK video  

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