Days before she delivers the biggest speech of her political career, Stacey Abrams will have another super-sized moment during the most-watched television program of the year.
The Democrat’s voting rights group, Fair Fight Action, reserved airtime for a 30-second TV ad to run in Georgia during the Super Bowl. It features a bipartisan push for new elections laws that include updated voting machines and more resources for local officials.
It's the latest step by Abrams to continue to elevate her profile after her narrow November defeat to Gov. Brian Kemp. The capper comes next week when she gives the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.
The ramp-up in political activity, which also includes the recent launch of a "thank you" tour, heightens the likelihood that Abrams will challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue in 2020. She's given herself a March deadline to decide and faces pressure from state and national figures to run.
Abrams appears in Sunday’s ad with Natalie Crawford, a Republican commissioner from Habersham County, the home of a contentious legal fight over a flawed legislative election. Both recite a list of voting measures meant to show common ground over voting changes.
“Every vote should be counted from every corner of the state,” Abrams said.
“We need hand-marked paper ballots, and our election officials to have the support that they need,” said Crawford.
Abrams then asks supporters to “join us in the fight for election reform” and take a selfie with the hashtag #FairElectionsNow.
“Because picturing fair elections,” she concludes, “is something we can all do.”
The ad will run during Sunday’s game, which is hosted in Atlanta, in the Albany, Columbus, Macon and Savannah markets. It will also be featured in digital advertisements in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. The overall cost is about $100,000.
Abrams put voting rights at the center of her campaign, and she refused to formally concede defeat to Kemp after an election clouded by concerns of voter suppression and his refusal to resign as secretary of state. Kemp said he was using existing laws to prevent voter fraud.
And her support for hand-marked paper ballots, a position she staked during the campaign, comes after a panel formed by Kemp recommended replacing the state's outdated voting machines with a computerized system that prints paper ballots.
Crawford's role was also meant to send a message. She lives in a portion of a deeply conservative northeast Georgia House district that's at the center of one of the most bizarre – and closest – legislative contests in recent state history.
Republican Dan Gasaway is in court this week seeking a second new election after losing the first redo by just two votes, and he claims that dozens of people illegally voted in the makeup contest.
Abrams often cited the Gasaway case on the campaign trail as an example of how problems with the state's elections procedures can cut across party lines. Kemp's office earlier blamed Habersham officials for putting voters in wrong districts.
The ad marks the second time in two years a Georgia politician has used the Super Bowl as a super-charged platform for their message. Republican Clay Tippins made his TV debut in the race for governor last year during the big game.
About the Author
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.