It infuriated key Democrats, who privately grumbled about the timing and tone of the posts. Warnock and Abrams largely steered clear of each other during the general election campaign, and Abrams played no public role in Warnock’s runoff win over Republican Herschel Walker.
“The race for governor was a winnable race. They spectacularly failed,” said David Brand, a Democratic consultant who worked for President Joe Biden. “These delusional rants don’t help anything, and they take away from Sen. Warnock’s win and the work of his amazing team.”
Democratic state Rep. Derrick Jackson, who ran for lieutenant governor, said the timing of Groh-Wargo’s message was “disheartening” because it stepped on Warnock’s victory lap. He also said it lacked a sense of self-awareness.
“This 52-part tweet is trying to give Stacey Abrams credit for Warnock’s victory without being accountable for her own defeat,” Jackson said. “This should have been discussed at the state party level so we can learn from this opportunity.”
Groh-Wargo, who was Abrams’ campaign manager during her bids for governor both this year and in 2018, said in the series of posts that conservative criticism of Abrams “poisoned her image” while the Democrat “leveraged her time, talents and organizations to secure the wins of 2020″ in Georgia and other battleground states.
“In doing so, she also made the 2022 gubernatorial race against a well-funded incumbent nearly impossible,” wrote Groh-Wargo, who blamed conservatives for driving Abrams’ “negatives sky-high” and accused the media of framing Kemp as a moderate for defying Donald Trump.
“In November, the white voters who had supported (Abrams’) work in 2018 and 2020 balked at giving her the job of governor because Kemp wasn’t ‘that bad’ and she had been tarnished by the unrelenting assault,” Groh-Wargo said in the post.
It was one of the few public remarks about the 2022 campaign from a member of Abrams’ inner circle since her Nov. 8 defeat. Abrams has kept a low profile since the loss, announcing only a Dec. 15 virtual event for a new children’s story she wrote.
She ended the midterm with fewer votes than Warnock and two other Democrats: Jen Jordan, the party’s nominee for attorney general, and Charlie Bailey, the lieutenant governor candidate.
The thread by Groh-Wargo set off an instant buzz in the political class. Republicans mocked her for waging a campaign that she admitted was likely doomed.
“Abrams donors will be so comforted to know they were swindled out of $130 million that the Abrams campaign lit on fire to try and win a ‘nearly impossible’ race,” Kemp strategist Cody Hall wrote.
Groh-Wargo also credited Abrams with helping to recruit Warnock for the 2020 special election for the U.S. Senate. Abrams had passed on a bid despite the urging of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other party officials, helping to clear the field for Warnock before he announced in January 2020.
Abrams and Warnock, longtime personal friends, ran vastly different campaigns this cycle. Abrams embraced Biden and emphasized support for liberal policies, while Warnock steered clear of the president and highlighted his work across bipartisan lines to appeal to swing voters.
The two held a public rally together in August to quell concerns about party unity amid scrutiny of their arm’s-length approach on the campaign trail. But they rarely campaigned together after that, and Abrams played no visible role in Warnock’s runoff campaign.
Brand, the consultant, said Democrats are ready to move on from Abrams, who faces an uncertain future after her second defeat.
“Stacey and Lauren seemed to be consumed with the approval from the Manhattan cocktail circuit,” Brand said. “Sen. Warnock’s campaign was focused on Georgians. Georgia Democrats have turned the page from Stacey.”
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