ATLANTA – Today, at the 2018 Democratic Party of Georgia Convention, Democratic nominee for Governor and former House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams released a new video, “Foundation,” highlighting how faith, family, and service have led to her commitment to building a state where every Georgian has the freedom and opportunity to thrive.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery: Georgia Democratic Convention
Hello, Georgia Democrats! We’ve come together from every region of our state – from the mountains to the coast, from the gnat line to the Beltline – to get ready to win in November. We have an opportunity this year t
o not only change the course of our state – we are ready to electrify our nation as we remind them of the power of true democracy. I am honored to serve as our nominee for Governor – and thrilled to see what we can accomplish together this fall, and in the years to come.
With the extraordinary efforts of our volunteers, the hard work of our candidates, the lived dreams of voters who hear from us every day, we have a single, shared destiny ahead – and that is victory.
But our victory will be more than electing the remarkable slate of candidates, up and down the ballot, in every community in our state. It will be more than setting the table for change for education, and our economy and our healthcare. When we win in November, it will be because we have reclaimed the mantle of leadership by sharing our values and respecting the voices of those who are ready for more. By fighting not against one another but for our best lives as Georgians.
I spent this week in South Georgia, visiting toddlers in Seminole County and a barbershop in Albany. Walking the sandy shores of the Flint River and the plowed furrows of Mitchell County. Listening to college kids in Valdosta and holding the hands of seniors in Fitzgerald.
And the thing of it is, I had the same conversations there that I had up in Chatsworth and down Pooler, in Henry County and Hinesville and Kirkwood. That this is a magnificent state hungry for opportunity. Eager to work for possibility of more.
In Donalsonville, I spoke with a passionate elementary school principal who has made excellent gains in reading scores despite meager resources. While we spoke about antiquated computers and the need for rural broadband, I watched a second-grader stand on his tiptoes to help his friend at a water fountain in sunny hallway. One held the bottle while the other pushed the button to fill it to the brim. Then, when his bottle was filled, they switched places and did it all over again. No one had to tell them what to do, to cooperate and know that each could have a turn.
I entered this race with this simple truth in mind: that under Democratic leadership – every Georgian will thrive – and we will thrive together. It’s not just Democrats who know this. Georgians from across the political spectrum, in every county in our state – from country homes to townhomes to condos – know it is time for a new brand of leadership.
One committed to leaving no families behind even as success comes to more and more of our neighbors. One that rejects the atmosphere of hate and division consuming our politics – and instead leans into the power of community and inclusion to ensure a seat at the table for everyone.
Leadership that embraces what those second-graders knew instinctively – that our fates as Georgians are tied together. When a child born across town falls through the cracks, her future will affect the child born on the more affluent side of town. When a Georgia farmer we may never meet succeeds, their achievements will power our economy and propel our families forward. That the immigrant whose shop succeeds will improve the job prospects of the next person with a dream.
This is the Georgia we are fighting for. A state as rooted in the traditions of community as we are committed to progress. One where jobs and access lead to stability and strength. Where our voters know we respect them with the words that we speak, the promises we keep, and the values we hold most dear.
My story is our story. A Georgia where no matter how tough things get – our core beliefs in faith, family and service never waiver.
Because faith grounds us in a morality that will not allow bigotry and discrimination to turn us around. Regardless of the God to whom we pray – or if we do – we are each obliged to do what is right, to do what is good, and to be a shield for the vulnerable.
A love of family, no matter how we came to be. The families we’re born to or create along the way, the ones who hear our fears and celebrate our dreams. Who sacrifice for our success and love us even in our stumbles.
And service – the mom who volunteers at the pantry to ensure another mother can feed her kids or the new citizen who teaches English to those who seek a better life. And the thousands of Georgians who live in towns and neighborhoods who have dedicated their lives to our safety, our health, and our education. Our teachers and firefighters; our cops and doctors and nurses. The dentist who travels across rural Georgia for patients without a car, and the soup kitchen that feeds those in cities overflowing with plenty.
The service of our veterans and military families who defend our nation and deserve more than simple thanks but never demand it.
Faith. Family. Service. These values ground us in why we run, and they remind us of why we must win. Because not everyone respects the right to personal faith. And some remain scared of families that do not look like their own. And too many who dedicate their lives to our service wonder if they can feed their own families at night. But we Democrats must do more than talk about our values.
We will live them out loud with the campaigns we run and the policies we champion. With the promises we make and the truths we keep – and the way we lead.
As your next governor, we will invest in our children from cradle to career. Working with our new school superintendent, Otha Thornton, I will not be an education governor, I will be Georgia’s Public Education Governor. We will no longer shortchange our children and sabotage our futures. Because our children deserve better and it’s the right thing to do. And because when all of Georgia’s children have a chance to reach their potential, regardless of their zip code, we can reach our potential as a state – and unleash the full power of our economy.
Still, even as I speak, public education is under assault in our state, with our kids and educators being told to do more and more with less and less. I will work with our newly added legislators and our seasoned leaders in the House and Senate to reverse the drain of $100 million to private schools so we can invest in our constitutional responsibility for our public schools.
Under Democratic leadership – at all levels of government – our students, our parents and our educators will once again know they are the heart of Georgia, propelling our young people toward lives of security, happiness and achievement – and our state toward its rightful place as a national leader.
Standing with our new Lieutenant Governor, Sarah Riggs Amico, we will recognize and respect the power of high-quality affordable childcare and early learning to empower our youngest Georgians and post-secondary access for all who wish to learn.
I recently met Alison down in Thomasville, a young hotel worker who longed to go back to school. But she has a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old, and she can’t afford the cost of daycare. So she puts off her education, and she worries if her children are learning in the only place she can afford. She didn’t realize that the governor has the responsibility of helping her and her family. That debt-free college and our early learning scholarship program will invest in children and their parents, allowing millions of Georgia’s workers and entrepreneurs to succeed, to pursue their dreams and create new jobs, knowing their children are safe and their minds are growing.
With our next Attorney General, Charlie Bailey, we will expand our state’s commitment to criminal justice reform. We will continue to decriminalize poverty, incentivize the transition from ex-offender to productive citizen, keep our kids out of the school-to-prison pipeline and build a stronger relationship between our communities and law enforcement, one where we are in this together.
As your governor – the state’s CEO – I will champion an economy that works in all 159 counties, and gives Georgians the freedom to do more than just survive. We all deserve a real chance to succeed. And that gap – between struggle and success – has been overlooked by this state’s leaders for too many years. When we win, we will renew respect for the dignity of work in every sector, field and corner of Georgia. Fred Swann, our new Agriculture Commissioner, will help us grow jobs in precision farming and fight decisions that harm our largest economic driver.
I know that everyone wins when we choose to honor service and hard work with wages you can raise a family on – while putting a little bit away for your future. We will invite corporations and their jobs to Georgia, and we will invest in the small businesses that keep our Main Streets and neighborhoods alive.
As we elect new leaders to the Public Service Commission, Dawn Randolph and Lindy Miller, I will work with them to bring more than jobs to Georgia – together, we can build career pipelines in renewable energy and begin to protect our climate and our communities.
By defeating horrific legislation like RFRA, we will continue to spur creativity through a growing entertainment industry. And with Richard Keatley as our Labor Commissioner, we will create 22,000 apprenticeships and bolster the strength of our trade unions to grow an economy that lifts every Georgian. We will help the physically and developmentally disabled join the workforce across our state. We can build an economy as strong and diverse as our people – and watch a surging state of Georgia breathe life into individuals and families. In our Georgia, everyone will have a license to dream and the opportunity they deserve to achieve.
Just this week, we saw how critical it is to have a Secretary of State who respects the right to vote – for every Georgia citizen. With John Barrow at the helm, we will not see voters warned that their polling places have closed or that their right to vote is in question because of a lost postcard or a hyphenated last name. We will champion real voter registration and end voter suppression and lead the nation in access to a fundamental civil right that our fellow Georgians bled to protect.
To Georgians waiting for their chance at prosperity, hear me when I say: we are with you. And we’ll never stop fighting for you. Republican leaders have had their chance to do right by us and in too many ways, they have failed. They have put cheap politics ahead of our health – costing us lives and rural hospitals. Well, with Janice Laws as our Insurance Commissioner, we will join 34 other states and the District of Columbia, and we will expand Medicaid in the state of Georgia.
In our schools, our houses of worship, on our college campuses and our community gatherings, we will proudly demand responsible gun ownership, where those who exercise their right to bear arms know that we don’t point weapons at children and we arm our teachers with resources not .45s.
From the Gold Dome to Congress to county commissioners to school boards, in 2019, Georgia will be under new management. A state where our values come to life when we defend civil rights and advance the cause of justice. When those of us who are straight stand up for the rights of LGBTQ families. When those of us who are citizens shout with every breath in our lungs for the protection of those forced into the shadows. When those of us living outside of prison walls recognize the humanity of incarcerated people and work to ensure the communities they one day re-join will receive healed citizens, prepared to contribute and live healthier lives.
Together – we will build a Georgia rooted in faith in one another. Where we value more than the notion of family. And where our service to each other drives prosperity for all.
None of this will be easy. Before we claim our victory – and write a new chapter here in the state of Georgia – we will have to fight old and new enemies in this campaign. Trickery and complacency and the paralyzing fear that comes with the promise of hope.
But we know it is possible. It’s how we broke a supermajority in the state Senate and prevented one from ever taking shape in the people’s House. To win, we need to do more than proudly sport a bumper sticker or plant a yard sign.
We need to find those who gave up a long time ago, and we have to give them reason to believe again. That means we need each of you talk about why this election matters – and to show your neighbors why they should care. This election will not be won on Facebook or Twitter alone. We’ve got to do what Democrats once did in this state – have real conversations – on stoops and sun-porches. In living rooms and on the phone.
In the areas of town we pass by and write off because no one there votes. They don’t vote because we don’t ask. Or because we only ask once. This year, we have to plant our flag and our feet and not walk away until these new voters are ready to come with us.
Together, Georgia Democrats, we are growing an unprecedented field program built to win – targeting those voters who might need to hear from us 4 or 5 times before they show up at the polls. We’ve got the team in place to target who we need to reach – now we need the volunteers who understand what’s at stake in Peach County and why voting in Lilburn will yield a different result. We’ve got to discuss politics with our uncles in Laurens County and cousins in Cuthbert. We have to reach out to those on the fence – and on the other side of it – not by betraying our values but by showing how our values will bring better opportunities to Georgia. Our neighbors need to hear from us and with Georgia-grown volunteers, we will bring this election home.
With the most dynamic slate of candidates in a generation, I have no doubt we can win in Georgia. Up and down the ballot, in red and blue and pink and purple counties, we will renew the promise of our state for all the souls who are depending on us to lead so they can thrive.
Our victory is in the air, Georgia Democrats. This is our movement. This is our moment. This – is our Georgia.
Thank you for all you’ve done, and for the hard work that lies ahead. We’ve got this, Georgia Democrats. So let’s get it done!
See the full video here: