In 2018, a group of Savannah Democrats helped raise money and canvassed for Abrams. For some, it was their first time extending their support outside of the voting booth, but they say Abrams awoke something in them.
Among them was Clinton Edminster, now a Chatham Area Transit board member and owner of Starlandia Supply. It was his first time hitting the pavement for a politician, but he says Abrams was worth the effort.
“Campaigning for Stacey in 2018 seemed to just go above and beyond regular political passion. And, I mean, honestly, it felt like a movement,” Edminster said. “It felt like something really great could happen if we all put a lot of work into it. It just seemed to ascend, and go beyond.”
Engaged and enthusiastic
The group called themselves the Political Rascals. They were diverse, engaged and approached campaigning with a tongue-in-cheek style. When a Kemp meet-and-greet campaign event in Savannah charged $19,800 for entry at the "Chair" level, the Rascals held a fundraiser for Abrams in Forsyth Park..
They charged $19.80 for the "chair" level, "1000 times less than the $19,800 for the same level of participation in the Kemp event," the event invitation read.
Local political activist Moncello Stewart worked with the Rascals as well, echoing Edminster’s notion that something about Abrams was different; something that separated her from other “typical” candidates.
“When Stacey came along, I think it was the fact that it was a fresh new look. And it was different for us. It wasn't the traditional candidate to me, not the suit-and-tie type of person, but somebody who I can relate to, and many of my friends related to,” Stewart said.
The group campaigned on Abrams' behalf, knocking on doors, commissioning campaign artwork from local artist Panhandle Slim to use on campaign signs and T-shirts and hosting get-out-the-vote events.
Even though Abrams lost the statewide race, their efforts produced results in Chatham.
Abrams won 58.94% of Chatham County's vote in 2018, topping Kemp's totals by about 20,000 votes. By contrast, In 2014, Democrat candidate for governor Jason Carter claimed 52.3% of the vote in Chatham in his race against Republican Nathan Deal. Carter got 36,302 votes. Abrams received 61,059 in 2018.
Building on momentum
Following the 2018 election, the Rascals pivoted to other kinds of advocacy, campaigning for progressive policies and candidates in both Georgia and at the federal level, Edminster said.
Stewart predicts Abrams will once again find campaign support in Savannah for 2022. He said 2018 marked the first time since Barack Obama's presidential run in 2008 that he truly believed in a candidate outside of local races. Tthat belief is contagious, he said.
“Her mission and goals are still the same,” Stewart said of Abrams. “And so I think those same issues that she wants to address as it relates to families, as it relates to communities that need to prosper more, as it relates to disenfranchised people, I think those issues are still on the table. And I think they’ll be on the table for a long time.”
Edminster said he’ll be ready to go as Abrams' campaign engine begins to turn, with just 11 months until election day.
“I'm extremely excited about Stacey running again. I think the message that she had for us in 2018 is only stronger,” Edminster said. “So many of her concerns have come true, and that's only matched by how much energy all of us are going to put into this now.”
Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at email@example.com and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: As Stacey Abrams returns to the fold, so do her grassroots organizers