David Perdue, the former Republican senator of Georgia who’s now running for governor, told voters ahead of the state’s primary election on Tuesday that Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams is “demeaning her own race” and “should go back to where she came from.”
“Did you all see what Stacey said this weekend?” Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General, told an overwhelmingly white crowd. “She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey, she ain’t from here. Let her go back to where she came from. She doesn’t like it here.”
Abrams, a Black politician and voting rights activist in Georgia who grew up poor in Mississippi, has made headlines this week for saying that the state is a great place to do business, but a difficult place to live if you don’t already have a lot of money.
“I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live,” Abrams said Saturday. “When you’re No. 48 for mental health, when you’re No. 1 for maternal mortality, when you have an incarceration rate that’s on the rise and wages that are on the decline, then you are not the No. 1 place to live.”
These things are objectively true, but conservative media spun it into headlines like:
Abrams, a Yale-trained attorney, very narrowly lost a gubernatorial bid in 2018 to Republican Brian Kemp, following charges of voter suppression. Domestic workers in Georgia turned out in droves to knock on doors for her, having finally seen the first candidate in a while to represent them and inspire them to care about politics.
As I wrote then:
Abrams’ platform would directly and indirectly improve the lives of domestic workers. She’d expand Medicaid; she supports requiring a living wage across Georgia, instead of the current $5.15 an hour minimum; she has a plan to reintegrate incarcerated people into society and guarantee access to quality public education for all children. She wants to expand broadband access and better transportation to rural and low-income communities across Georgia, to better incorporate them into the economy.
Abrams also, unlike Republican politicians in Georgia, gives a shit about the environment. “People shouldn’t have to go into agriculture or hospitality to make a living in Georgia,” she said. “Why not create renewable energy jobs? Because, I’m going to tell y’all a secret: Climate change is real.”
Perdue, predictably, spun that into this: “When she told Black farmers, ‘You don’t need to be on the farm,’ and she told Black workers in hospitality and all this, ‘You don’t need to be,’ she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that. I am really over this. She should never be considered material for governor of any state, much less our state where she hates to live.”
The irony of a wealthy white man in Georgia telling Abrams to “go back to where she came from” and that she’s “demeaning her race,” when she’s fighting for voting rights and aiming to make the state more livable for people who don’t have the privilege he does, is hard to even comprehend.
Abrams took the high road in an interview on MSNBC Monday night when asked about Perdue’s comments: “Regardless of which Republican it is,” she said, “I have yet to hear them articulate a plan for the future of Georgia.”
Georgia, a formerly blood red state, elected two Democratic senators in 2020, giving Democrats a very slight majority in the Senate. The state has never had a Black governor or a woman governor, and it’s hard to really expect them to do that now. But it sure would be a coup.