Democrat Stacey Abrams holds a news conference Tuesday to announce she has qualified to run for Georgia governor.

Georgia 2018: Abrams-aligned progressive group to launch major canvassing effort

A progressive advocacy group is planning to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, putting substantial resources behind the former state House minority leader ahead of the party’s May 22 primary. 

The Working Families Party said it is aiming to spend in the “high six-figures” to canvass some 200,000 voters in the southern part of metro Atlanta in the months ahead. The group is focusing on African American voters who tend to back Democratic candidates but typically sit out midterm elections, hewing to the strategy Abrams has argued is key to Democrats winning Georgia’s governorship for the first time since 2002. 

They plan to do this by focusing on a jobs and economics-heavy message, as well as issues such as health care and racial equality, according to Eric Robertson, the former union activist whom the Working Families Party has brought on as its southern political director. 

“One of the reasons you see the drop-off between midterm elections and the presidential years is that the issues are not as clear between the candidates,” he said. “People don’t feel that same sense of urgency. We want to change that by having massive-scale contact with those voters to really communicate to them the issues that we think and we know are a priority.” 

The Working Families Party, which formally endorsed Abrams last year, has hired Robertson and digital strategist Aimee Castenell to helm the effort. They are currently fundraising and plan to expand more, formally kicking things off with a volunteer event on Sunday. 

Many partisan groups are waiting until after the primary to get involved in the gubernatorial race, but Robertson said the Working Families Party is looking to get a head start on its ground game ahead of the general election. He said the group does not plan to focus the bulk of its messaging on Stacey Evans, the former state legislator with whom Abrams has been tangling for the support of Democratic powerbrokers. 

The group has recently sought to play a more influential role in state and city races, particularly in the South. But this is the first time they’re getting involved on this scale in a statewide race, according to Robertson. 

More recent AJC coverage of the Georgia governor’s race:

End of session begins final sprint in Georgia governor’s race

Sparks fly at Georgia GOP debate for governor

Democrat’s IRS debt faces scrutiny in Georgia governor’s race

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...