Former President Barack Obama is in Georgia Friday evening to rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Brian Kemp, capping off a day of campaign events for Democrats.
Earlier on Friday, Obama traveled to Florida to rally for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, two days after President Trump visited the state to stump for their Republican opponents. Like Mr. Trump, Obama is engaged in a final campaign swing before the midterm elections. He is campaigning against Mr. Trump’s agenda and Republican candidates less than two years after he left office, a departure from a historical norm in which former presidents tend to avoid openly criticizing their successors.
How to watch the Obama rally in Georgia:
What: Former President Barack Obama rally for Stacey Abrams
Abrams’ campaign has attracted support from prominent celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, who has canvassed and rallied with the candidate. Actor Michael B. Jordan has knocked on doors in Atlanta urging black voters to turn out, and Actor and comedian Will Ferrell has also canvassed for Abrams’ campaign.
Abrams has been largely focused on turning out communities which don’t usually turn out in high numbers during midterm elections, such as black voters and young people. If elected, Abrams would be the first black woman elected governor in the country. Obama is rallying with Abrams at Morehouse College, a widely respected historically black college.
The Georgia gubernatorial race has been roiled by claims of voter suppression. As Georgia secretary of state, Kemp oversees election infrastructure, which Democrats say presents a conflict of interest. Kemp’s office has suspended processing 53,000 voter registrations, 70 percent of which are for black Georgians. He did so under the auspices of a 2017 state law passed under his urging, which requires an “exact match” between a voter registration form and government documents. If a person’s voter registration form differs from government documents — even by a hyphen or a misspelling — their registration form is considered suspect.
While Abrams has claimed Kemp is deliberately trying to suppress the votes of black Georgians, who typically vote Democratic, Kemp argues the issues with registration forms are due to shoddy work by liberal groups such as the Abrams-founded New Georgia Project, which works to register minority voters. However, the 53,000 voters with pending applications can still vote on election day, if they present photo identification at the polls.
On Sunday, President Trump is rallying for Kemp. Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Kemp on Thursday, and criticized the star power Abrams’ campaign has attracted.
“I heard Oprah’s in town today,” Pence said. “I’m kind of a big deal too and I’ve got a message, I’ve got a message for all of Stacey Abrams’ liberal Hollywood friends. This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia.”