Stacey Abrams: Republicans could send off-duty law enforcement into polling places next year to intimidate minority voters
Via the Free Beacon, there’s some agita online today about Abrams floating another hair-raising theory of corruption at the polls after insisting without evidence for months that she’s the rightfully elected governor of Georgia. Although, interestingly, she seems to be backing off that last claim now — somewhat, allowing last night that “I don’t know that empirically I would have won” last year.
Does that mean the rest of the party is now free to punt on the burning question of who the “real” governor is, or do racial politics require them to hug the “Stacey won” talking point tight even as she’s inched away from it?
Anyway, she’s on firmer empirical ground in worrying about off-duty patrolmen turning up in majority-minority districts in 2020 on behalf of the GOP. It sounds outlandish but that actually happened in New Jersey in 1981. Armed off-duty cops showed up at the polls in black neighborhoods wearing armbands identifying them as part of the “National Ballot Security Task Force,” which sounds like an official government agency but was actually just an outfit thrown together by the RNC. (There’s a Wikipedia page and everything.) It created enough of a stir that the RNC entered into a consent decree the following year in which it promised not to use such tactics for 35 years. The consent decree lapsed in 2017 and the DNC went to court to try to get it extended but lost. So, in theory, the RNC is free to try this again. Whether they’d dare do that in an age of ubiquitous smartphones and social media, when evidence of the “Ballot Security Task Force” staring down black voters in line to vote could and would be streamed in real-time on Election Day, is a separate question. But that’s the genesis of Abrams’s complaint.
The most newsworthy soundbite from her in the media yesterday wasn’t this, by the way, it was her answer to the Times when asked if she’d agree to be VP if asked. Answer: Hell yes.
So in saying you’re open to other opportunities, that includes any potential selection for vice president?
I would be honored to be considered by any nominee.
But my responsibility is to focus on the primary. And that means using the primary as an opportunity to build the apparatus to fight voter suppression. Because in the end, no matter where I fit, no matter which ones of our nominees win, if we haven’t fought this scourge, if we haven’t pushed back against Moscow Mitch and his determination to block any legislation that would cure our voting machines, then we are all in a world of trouble.
The hard truth for her is that she’s not an obvious pick for any member of the top tier. She’s a good demographic balance for Biden and Sanders but they’re each so old that her lack of federal or statewide experience would attract intense scrutiny. She’s not such a great demographic balance for Warren and Harris since Dems would worry that an all-woman ticket might scare off some working-class voters in the midwest. Her best pairing, I think, would be with someone like Buttigieg or Beto, running as part of a “youth” ticket where you wouldn’t need to worry that the president won’t make it through a full term. Plus, Buttigieg has no federal or statewide experience either; voters will have to clear that hurdle psychologically in voting for him much more so than they will with her as VP.
Exit question: When was the last time someone without federal, statewide, or military experience was put on a ticket *as VP*? Trump lacked all three as well, but Trump had to run the gauntlet of a national primary election. Republican voters sized him up and declared him worthy notwithstanding his lack of government credentials. Abrams is aiming to land on the ticket as an appointee, not as the choice of Democratic voters. I think the last person to pull that off was Sargent Shriver, George McGovern’s VP in 1972, although Shriver had served as ambassador to France and as head of the Peace Corps so he’d had some nominal federal duties before he was named. Abrams would be breaking new ground in the VP slot.
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