Stacey Abrams lands key union endorsements for 2022 bid

Stacey Abrams centered her first in-person campaign event around an announcement from a coalition of unions that endorsed her run for governor, highlighting the prominent role that organized labor will play in her 2022 bid.

The Democrat embraced the support Wednesday from the Georgia chapter of AFL-CIO and roughly a dozen other unions at a press conference where she also blasted Gov. Brian Kemp as a “failed” leader and insisted there’s still hope for the passage of a federal voting rights measure.

The emphasis she put on union support came as little surprise given Abrams’ ties to organized labor. She won the endorsement in 2018 of the Georgia chapter of the AFL-CIO and other labor groups, which gave her an instant financial and organizational boost during her 2018 campaign.

Since her defeat to Kemp, she’s worked to bolster those ties. She canceled a May 2019 speaking gig to support a local union in a labor dispute, launched an expansion of her Fair Fight political organization at a union convention in Las Vegas and joined the board of the WNBA players union.

Abrams also joined one of the most watched labor-organizing initiatives in the nation last year by encouraging Amazon workers in Alabama to vote to unionize. And after Democrats swept the U.S. Senate runoffs, she credited union laborers as the force “at the core of Georgia’s evolution.”

On Wednesday, union leaders returned the favor. Charlie Flemming, head of the Georgia chapter of the AFL-CIO, praised Abrams as a candidate who “understands firsthand how the union difference can transform lives and drive progress for generations to come.”

“There is no better champion for Georgia’s working families than Stacey Abrams,” he said, “which is why we are extraordinarily proud to endorse her run for governor.”

Aside from Flemming’s union, other organized labor backers included Savannah Regional Central Labor Council, OPEIU, CWA Local 3204, AFSCME, UFCW 1996, IBEW 1579, IUPAT, State Building Trades, SEIU-Workers United and IBEW Local 613.

Georgia Republicans have long assailed organized labor, which has faced declining membership and diminished clout under GOP rule. Still, unions remain central to Democratic politics, offering a trove of members and retirees to captain get-out-the-vote efforts and a steady source of financing for campaigns.

Kemp’s campaign ridiculed Abrams’ alliance with labor, saying in a statement that it’s a sign she backs “higher taxes, more government red tape, and cradle-to-grave government control of Georgians’ lives.”

Abrams, meanwhile, said Kemp was a governor “who likes to take credit but no responsibility.”

“I don’t want to live in a state of inaction,” she said. “I want to live in a state of opportunity.”