Amico launches PAC to boost women running for office

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, shown when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2018, has started the Our American Dreams PAC to help Georgia women “who exemplify and fiercely fight to defend the American dream.” The political action committee’s first round of endorsements supports about 20 candidates, including many women of color running in competitive districts. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Ex-Senate candidate isn’t quitting politics

Sarah Riggs Amico isn’t retreating from Georgia politics after consecutive defeats on the statewide stage. Instead, the former logistics executive launched a PAC on Thursday to help left-leaning women in Georgia win state and local office.

Amico said the Our American Dreams PAC will help women “who exemplify and fiercely fight to defend the American dream.” The political action committee’s first round of endorsements supports about 20 candidates, including many women of color running in competitive districts.

“They are first-generation college graduates, union members, small business owners and entrepreneurs,” Amico said in an interview. “And they know what it is like to fight like hell to survive in this pandemic.”

She came up with the idea after two gut-wrenching campaigns in the span of two years. As a political newcomer in 2018, Amico narrowly lost the race for lieutenant governor to Republican Geoff Duncan. Earlier this year, she came in third place in the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue.

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She wanted to find a way to amplify the stories she heard on the campaign trail while also helping women take “policy debates out of the theoretical and into a world of how we make people’s lives better.”

“Candidly, I wondered a lot the last few years why I waited so long to run for office. I don’t know that I grew up around any women in government,” said Amico, who was raised in Joplin, Missouri. “There are too many voices left out. Too many people who could bring better governance — whether on a school board or in the state Capitol.”

Sarah Riggs Amico's Our American Dreams PAC, in its first round of endorsements, is backing about 20 candidates, including many women of color running in competitive districts. Ben@BenGray.com / Special

Credit: Ben@bengray.com

Credit: Ben@bengray.com

Among the endorsements is a slate of Democrats with diverse backgrounds, including state Reps. Angelika Kausche, Donna McLeod and Bee Nguyen. The group is also backing Zulma Lopez, a state House candidate, and Deborah Gonzalez, who is running to be the top prosecutor in Athens-Clarke County.

Nguyen, first elected in 2017, praised Amico for not abandoning politics after her defeats and pushing to include more women in the process. Roughly one-third of Georgia state lawmakers are women, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Women often think running for office is the only path to politics. But it’s critically important to have women who lift up other women,” Nguyen said. “I respect and admire her courage for not throwing the towel in — instead of disappearing from the political space, she’s continuing to find her voice.”

Amico didn’t specify how much she’s spending to finance the PAC, but she said she returned to donors from her last two campaigns and asked them to consider chipping in. She also said her family, which recently regained a majority stake in a car-hauling firm where she served as a top executive, will financially support the initiative.

In the long run, Amico said she hopes the PAC can develop a blueprint for how government and society can operate in a post-pandemic world. She recently recovered from a bout with COVID-19, and she sees the coming years as a chance to overhaul systems rooted in systemic racism and inequalities.

“It’s not about going back to the way things were before COVID,” she said. “It’s about whether the country can choose leaders who understand we have an opportunity to reset the system and eliminate some of these biases.”

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