The Jolt: Stacey Abrams’ head start on November touts ‘saving’ film industry

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters at an election watch party on Nov. 6, 2018 in Atlanta. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters at an election watch party on Nov. 6, 2018 in Atlanta. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

While Gov. Brian Kemp continues to duke it out with his primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, in the final days of the campaign, Stacey Abrams has gotten a head start on her general election messaging.

It’s part of Abrams’ decision to reshape her campaign after a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion previewed the possibility that the court could soon overturn Roe v. Wade.

A 30-second ad that Abrams released Thursday features a string of TV and movie production workers crediting the Democrat for convincing the film industry not to ditch Georgia after Kemp signed the state’s six-week abortion ban in 2019.

“It was Stacey who got everyone together and got the film industry to stay right here in Georgia,” said a makeup artist named Sheena. Near the end of the spot, she and two other film industry workers proclaim: “Stacey Abrams saved my job.”

It’s a reference to Abrams’ trip to Hollywood in June 2019 to urge film executives to “stay and fight” rather than bolt Georgia because of their opposition to the new abortion restrictions.

“While there is a moral pull to say that leaving or boycotting can have an impact, my argument is there’s a stronger effect by staying and changing the power structure that allowed this bill to pass,” she said on that trip.

It came shortly after Kemp called the new law the nation’s “toughest” abortion restrictions – and promised to defend it in court “even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”

The film industry has exploded in Georgia with the help of lucrative film tax incentives backed by leading politicians and lawmakers from both parties. Hundreds of movie and TV projects are shot in Georgia each year, supporting roughly 92,000 jobs.


Call it good, old-fashioned counterprogramming.

As Gov. Brian Kemp prepares to announce a massive Hyundai plant on Friday at a megasite in southeast Georgia, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is set to stump with Sarah Palin just down the road in Savannah.

Palin is looking to make a comeback of her own as she runs for the open House seat representing Alaska in Congress.

The Palin press conference is one of several Perdue has scheduled around the state for Friday, when he ends the evening in Plainville with a Bikers for Trump event.


Fox News is out with the latest poll to show a huge lead for Gov. Brian Kemp and Senate GOP contender Herschel Walker in their primary contests Tuesday.

The poll showed Kemp with a 60-28 edge over former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, a 32-point split that puts the governor far over the majority-vote mark needed to notch an outright win.

The same poll found Walker with an even larger advantage over his Republican rivals. He was at 66% of the vote – 58 points higher than his closest competitor, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

The results echoed the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, which pegged both Kemp and Walker with huge leads. A closer look at the Fox poll revealed some other interesting trends.

  • One quarter of likely Republican primary voters said Donald Trump’s endorsement made them less likely to support Perdue, and they broke for Kemp by 79 points. The 36% who said the endorsement had no effect on their views went for Kemp by nearly 60 points.
  • Almost two-thirds of the GOP voters said it’s extremely important their candidate can defeat the Democrat in November, and those voters favored Kemp by 36 points.
  • Abortion is a lower priority for Republican voters, with about one-third saying supporting a ban on the procedure is “extremely important” to their pick. Though Perdue has called for an outright abortion ban, Kemp still leads this group by 19 points.


Herschel Walker’s campaign moved into a new phase this week-- inviting the media to his events and speaking with reporters afterward. The tough questions came quickly.

Asked after an event Wednesday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon about whether the Democrat won the 2020 vote, the GOP Senate frontrunner sidestepped.

“I think there were some problems, and I do think there were problems, and I think everybody else thinks there were problems, and that’s the reason now everybody is so upset,” he said.

On the day after the 2020 elections, as former president Donald Trump was already claiming the election was stolen from him, Walker suggested in a Tweet that the entire state of Georgia recast its votes.

“Instead of us fighting and going to court, why don’t we have Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin vote again? We can have it done within a week, and maintain our democracy.”

Three separate Georgia tallies, a signature audit, and countless court decisions have dismissed Trump supporters’ claims of fraud and upheld Biden’s victory.


Adam Brimmer at The Savannah Morning News is up with a new editorial sure to cause grief in the Stacey Abrams camp, comparing her campaign to that of Donald Trump’s after the Abrams camp called Brimmer’s newsroom, as well as your Jolters, to quibble with a crowd size estimate for a recent Abrams stop.

An article in the Morning News pegged the crowd at 75 and quoted Abrams supporters at the event saying it was not heavily publicized.

The Abrams staff said they’d counted heads in a photo of the crowd and was, by their estimate, 125. The paper stands by its reporting.

“Come September and October, Abrams will draw thousands to rallies across the state. Her campaign staff surely knows that, which makes their current quibbling all the more perplexing,” Van Brimmer wrote.


With Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan leaving office at the end of the year, the race for lieutenant governor is wide open on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

The jam-packed, nine-person field on the Democratic side makes that race likely to go to a runoff, so contenders are working until the last minute to get in front of voters.

State Rep. Erick Allen, a Vinings Democrat, is in the middle of his “Justice for Georgia” statewide bus tour, with stops still scheduled in Macon, Savannah, Augusta and Jonesboro.

Late entrant Charlie Bailey, the 2018 Democratic nominee for attorney general, has been pumping up his name ID by rolling out endorsements from law enforcement leaders like Gwinnett DA Patsy Austin-Gaston and state Sen. Michelle Au.

Others, like state Rep. Derrick Jackson, are working the field.


The Republican battle for lieutenant governor is a more combative situation.

Some voters opened their mail boxes this week to see a hit piece from the Georgia Conservative fund, featuring state Sen. Burt Jones and a cut-out photo of Stacey Abrams prominently Scotch-taped next to Jones.

The mailer calls Abrams Jones’ “BFF.” We can reliably say the two are not.

In the meantime, Trump-activist Jeanne Seaver is struggling to get her name out without Trump’s endorsement, which went to Jones instead. The Savannah Morning News has a feature on Seaver today, “Savannah Lt. Gov. candidate adores Trump. He endorsed one of her rivals. What that means.”


In Washington, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, who is also on the 2022 ballot, traveled to the White House on Wednesday to talk to President Joe Biden about canceling student debt.

“I was glad to meet today with President Biden before the White House takes any additional action to address student debt, and make sure he hears the stories I’ve heard from Georgians about why they need strong student debt relief,” Warnock said in a statement after the visit.

Warnock’s trek to the Oval Office was not announced in advance and nothing on the president’s public schedule indicated such a meeting would take place.


The House on Wednesday approved $28 million in emergency funding to help boost the nation’s supply of infant formula by a vote of 231-192, with most Republicans opposed to the measure. Georgia’s delegation split strictly along party lines.

A second measure also intended to address the shortage by giving families in the federal WIC program flexibility to purchase different formula brands was much more bipartisan, passing 414-9.

Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene was the only member of the delegation from either party to oppose that measure.

The White House on Wednesday announced that President Joe Biden had invoked the Defense Production Act to boost the production of infant formula. He also launched a new initiative to increase the import of infant formula from other countries.


Most Republicans in the U.S. House opposed a domestic terrorism measure that was fast-tracked after last weekend’s mass shooting in Buffalo.

Only one Republican -- Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger -- voted with Democrats to pass the bill on a 222-203 vote. Georgia’s delegation once again split along strict party lines.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. When the House passed similar legislation two years ago, Senate Republicans refused to allow its quick passage in that chamber. And they can use the filibuster to keep it from coming to the floor for a vote now.


Today in Washington:

  • The House has scheduled a vote on a bill intended to control the rising cost of fuel.
  • The Senate is expected to take a final vote on a bill providing $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, which would send the measure to President Joe Biden.
  • Both the House and the Senate plan to wrap up work today. The House will then be out for two weeks; the Senate is back on Monday.


Last week our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu reported that the secretary of state’s office invalidated the candidacy of former state Rep. Jeff Lewis, who was one of two Republicans challenging incumbent state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler in the primary. This week, Lewis filed an appeal to Fulton County Superior Court asking that his candidacy be reinstated.

An administrative law judge recommended that Lewis’ candidacy be invalidated because the former representative had not filed campaign finance documents for about a decade before qualifying to run for the Rome-based Senate seat. A new law passed shortly before qualifying that said candidates must be current on any campaign finance filings to be eligible to run for office.

Lewis earlier this week asked the superior court to declare the new law to be unconstitutional because it puts more qualifications on candidate eligibility than is outlined in the state constitution.

Lewis’ attorney, Lester Tate, told the AJC he hoped to get a ruling from the judge before next week’s primary that reinstates Lewis’ candidacy. No hearing had been set as of Wednesday.


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

Sign Up to receive the Morning Jolt & AJC Politics newsletters in your inbox.