UPDATE: Abrams rallies Ga. Democrats at state convention: ‘Let’s get it done’

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The Democratic Party of Georgia is meeting in Columbus on Saturday to hear from their top candidates and conduct other party business. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will post updates throughout the day.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

4:55 p.m.

In a fiery 30-minute speech, gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams revved up a convention hall full of Democrats.

“I intend to be the next governor for the great state of Georgia,” she said.

Abrams drew a sharp contrast between “Brian Kemp’s Georgia” and the one she and other Democrats would push for. She criticized Kemp for failing to invest the state’s surplus in programs that would help Georgians.

“We have the power, Georgia, let’s get it done,” Abrams said as she wrapped up the daylong convention.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

3:10 p.m.

Abortion took center stage with a video blasting Georgia’s ban, which took effect soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.

“Reproductive rights are on the ballot in Georgia,” said Adrienne White, the party’s vice chair of recruitment. “Women across Georgia are angry, confused and scared.”

“Yeah we are!” shouted a woman in the crowd.

Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, also appeared via video and urged Democrats to fight to get their rights back.

Party officials then paused the convention for 10 minutes break so attendees could sign up to volunteer for abortion rights events.

Democrats are hoping the issue will energize female voters to vote against the GOP which, pushed through the state law banning most abortions after six weeks.

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found about 42% of likely voters said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to protect abortion rights. About 26% said they’re motivated to vote for candidates who want to limit access to the procedure. About one-quarter said it makes no difference.

2:15 p.m.

Diversity, ‘next chapter of American history’ in the spotight

The slate of Democratic constitutional officers held a news conference before the afternoon’s programming resumed. And a key message was diversity. On the ticket are six Black candidates, two white candidates and one Asian American.

“We represent what the next chapter of American history is going to look like,” said Nakita Hemingway, who is running to become the state’s first Black and first woman agriculture commissioner.

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

Lieutenant governor hopeful Charlie Bailey – the ticket’s lone white man – said Georgians are tired of backward politics from a bunch of white guys.”

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

Gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams said the state was at a “generational moment” and said with a repeat of the “extraordinary turnout” of 2020 the slate would win.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

11:51 a.m.

Previewing the midterm elections

Appearing via a live video stream, U.S. Rep. David Scott had a prediction for the midterm elections.

“It looks like it’s not going to be as bad as some people think, as far as the election. So, we’re working hard to maintain our majority,” he said.

Recent polls have shown Democrats gaining ground in some close races.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

10:50 a.m.

Warnock rallies Democrats with focus on accomplishments

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock brought Georgia Democrats to their feet, urging them to send him back to Washington for six more years.

“Are you ready to do this thing one more time?” he asked to cheers. “Let’s get this done!”

Warnock is locked in a tight race with Republican Herschel Walker, the former University of Georgia football star.

Warnock laid out a list of Democratic accomplishments from an infrastructure bill to the recent announcement that the government would eliminate some student debt.

Warnock was introduced by Sandra Ellison, a Columbus woman who is diabetic and relies on insulin.

“It reminds me why I tolerate politics in order to do good works to help ordinary people,” Warnock said after she spoke.

Warnock helped lead an effort to cap insulin costs at $35 a month. The measure passed, but only for Medicare recipients. Republicans blocked a more expansive proposal.

“I mean who would dare block it? Providing insulin for people who need insulin,” he asked. “Who does that and, I’m sorry, because I’m a pastor, but where do they go to church?”

10:03 a.m.

State convention opens

Nikema Williams opened the Georgia Democratic Party Convention on Saturday with a declaration: “Georgia is a blue state.”

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

The congresswoman from Atlanta and state Democratic Party chairwoman urged delegates at the gathering in Columbus to get fired up and prepare to again mobilize voters. Early in-person voting begins Oct. 17.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens spoke soon after Williams and predicted that his city’s bid to host the 2024 national Democratic Party convention would succeed.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

“We are going to make sure that we get the convention here in Georgia,” Dickens said.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, gubernatorial contender Stacey Abrams and other candidates will address a crowd of Democratic activists from each of Georgia’s 159 counties as the party pushes to build on its gains from the last election season in a challenging political climate.