For The Record

Stacey Abrams campaigns on health care again as she makes governor bid official

By: - March 8, 2022 4:34 pm

Stacey Abrams speaks with reporters after qualifying to run for governor. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who became a national figure when she ran for governor four years ago, has officially put her name back on the ballot.

Abrams will once again bring star power to her campaign if her appearance Tuesday at the state Capitol to qualify is any indication. She was surrounded by throngs of journalists, supporters and curious onlookers as she filed her papers on the second day of qualifying.

Abrams is the first major candidate of either party to officially qualify in the race for governor. She could end up in a rematch with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who narrowly defeated Abrams by about 55,000 votes in 2018. But the governor must first fend off a Republican challenger, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump.

“The last four years of inaction and ineptitude by the current governor means that I’m simply trying again to do what’s right for Georgia, and I believe this time that we’ll get it done,” Abrams told reporters Tuesday.

Health care is once again at the center of Abrams’ campaign. She campaigned aggressively on Medicaid expansion in 2018 and criticized Kemp Tuesday for his alternative health care proposals, most of which have been stalled by the Biden administration.

The state has sued the federal government over the rejection of work and premium requirements packed into Kemp’s plan, which would have slightly expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Abrams pointed to the billions of federal dollars tied to traditional expansion that the state is currently not receiving, as well as the jobs and support for rural health care that could follow about 500,000 people gaining an insurance card.

“It is being refused not out of ideology because Mike Pence expanded Medicaid. It’s not being refused because we can’t afford it, because we can. In fact, he was willing to put forward a plan that costs more and serves fewer,” she said.

“This has been rejected because he simply doesn’t like the fact that wasn’t his idea, and that kind of mean, calloused leadership is leadership we should reject in Georgia and reject across the country.”

Kemp’s campaign and the Republican National Committee quickly issued statements also touching on familiar themes, including Abrams’ decision not to concede in 2018 but instead acknowledge she would not be Georgia’s next governor.

“We hope Stacey Abrams has her concession speech more readily available this go around, she’ll need it once and for all,” committee spokesperson Garrison Douglas said in a statement.

Kemp’s campaign has accused Abrams of trying to use the governor’s office as a way station.

“Stacey Abrams may see the Governor’s Mansion as the next stepping stone on her way to the White House, but Georgians won’t be fooled. Governor Kemp will continue to run on a record of success putting Georgians first and stop Stacey Abrams from becoming our governor – and our next president,” Kemp’s press secretary Tate Mitchell said in a statement. 

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Jill Nolin
Jill Nolin

Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.