Abrams, Georgia Dems solidifying State of the Union plans

U.S. Rep John Lewis speaks during a rally for Stacey Abrams at Morehouse College on Nov. 2, 2018.  (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

U.S. Rep John Lewis speaks during a rally for Stacey Abrams at Morehouse College on Nov. 2, 2018. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

As former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams prepares for her upcoming role as Democrats' State of the Union first responder, at least two Georgia Democrats are planning to make statements of their own: skipping President Donald Trump's address altogether.

Civil rights hero John Lewis, D-Atlanta, Georgia's longest-serving congressman, said Wednesday he plans to continue his boycott of Trump's speeches. And U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, who recently drew criticism for comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler, said he's also likely to skip out on Feb. 5.

“I have a problem with defiling the speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives,” said Johnson, one of the most liberal members of the Georgia delegation. “I don’t want to see it lowered, as is what happens when Donald Trump comes to our floor and starts talking about groups of people, particularly Latinos, and disparaging them as a people.”

“I’d rather be somewhere else,” he added.

Their comments came the same day the Abrams machine launched a full-scale barrage tied to her official Democratic rebuttal.

Fair Fight Action, the group Abrams started after her defeat to Brian Kemp, announced two dozen watch parties for supporters to “cheer her on as she stands up for voting rights and the will of the people.”

Many of the events are scattered around Georgia, including parties in Albany, Dahlonega, Macon, Savannah and several around metro Atlanta.

But the group has also arranged watch parties in a sweep of places across the nation – including every early-voting state in the presidential primary. That means there will be Abrams parties in Columbia, S.C.; Iowa City, Iowa.; Las Vegas and Manchester, N.H.

Other events will also be held in major cities where she drew many of her donors: Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.

Abrams’ camp has yet to announce the location of her speech. Some of her predecessors have delivered their addresses from hometown cafes, living rooms and auto-body shops.

Georgia Democrats, including Lewis, on Wednesday gushed about Abrams' selection, despite the somewhat cursed history of previous rebuttals.

“She’ll do a great job. She will represent the Democrats very well and represent Georgia,” Lewis said.

Even though Lewis and Johnson were planning to skip Tuesday’s address, at least two of their Democratic colleagues from Georgia, Sanford Bishop of Albany and Lucy McBath of Marietta, said they would be in the House chamber for the speech.

Democrats over the last two years have found other ways to quietly display their distaste for the president from the floor, protests that have won them eye rolls and criticism from many Republicans.

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