Not that last night’s show was an actual debate.
Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, has always been a controversial figure in the Peach State. In addition to burning the state flag on the steps of the Georgia Capitol in 1992, she was embroiled for three years in a vote fraud scandal involving a “registration initiative” called the New Georgia Project (NGP), an organization partially funded by a $500,000 contribution from George Soros. While that scandal played out, Abrams drew a salary of $177,000 for her part-time work as NGP’s CEO, yet failed to pay $54,000 in federal taxes and $96,000 in government-backed student loans.
It’s little wonder that Abrams is running behind her GOP opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp. But why is the gap only 1.5 points in a red state like Georgia? The answer is that most of her campaign contributions come from out-of-state donors. The Soros connection, for example, doesn’t stop with NGP. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, by no means a conservative publication, reports: “George Soros has given $1.25 million to Abrams’ political action committee, GeorgiaNEXT, since 2014. He also donated $1 million to the Georgia Democratic Party this year to support her campaign for governor.”
And the Soros cash is by no means all of the out-of-state money Abrams has received. She has received millions in donations from “independent groups” and Democratic political action committees that have been spending lavishly on behalf of the Abrams campaign. Moreover, most of the candidate’s individual contributions have come from out of town as well. The AJC also reports that she has received $1.2 million in contributions from residents of New York City, $581,000 from the denizens of DC, $429,000 from Nancy Pelosi’s hometown of San Francisco, $300,000 from residents of Los Angeles, ad infinitum.
Is all this lefty largesse enough to propel Abrams into the Georgia governor’s mansion? Not if she can’t do better in a more competitive environment than she was faced with during last night’s Georgia Public Broadcasting debate, which was moderated by Abrams-friendly public “journalists” who repeatedly tossed her softball questions, interrupted her Republican opponent, and gave an absurd amount of time for the goofy effusions of Libertarian Ted Metz. The tone of the debate became clear during the introduction of the candidates by lead moderator Lisa Rayam, Capital correspondent for Georgia Public Broadcasting:
First, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, is the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly, and the first African-American to lead the Georgia House of Representatives.
Brian Kemp, a Republican, has served as Georgia’s Secretary of State since 2010.
Ted Metz, a Libertarian is retired from a career as an insurance and financial professional.
It’s never a good sign in a debate when the moderator introduces one candidate with twice the verbiage and three times the enthusiasm as the other candidates. And it went downhill from there. The first question was addressed to Metz whose presence there was a waste of voter time. He has as much chance of becoming the Governor of Georgia as does my cat. He was asked about his proposal to replace Georgia’s income tax with a sales tax. The insinuation was that a regressive sales tax would be hard on low-income Georgians on fixed incomes. But Metz didn’t get that, so he explained that the plan’s logistics would be “really easy.”
This produced about ten seconds of awkward silence in the studio, after which Abrams was asked about the flag-burning incident on the steps of the Georgia Capitol: “Do you stand by those actions and what message do you have for the people who are concerned that you burned a state symbol even though it contained a Confederate emblem?”Abrams responded with a word salad about how proud she was to be a Georgian, how she grew up in the state, went to Spelman College, went away to graduate school, but came back because she wanted to make Georgia a better place. Then she implied that burning the flag was part of that project:
I, along with many other Georgians including the governor of Georgia, were deeply disturbed by the racial divisiveness that was embedded in the state flag with that Confederate symbol. I took an action of peaceful protest.
At this point she quickly changed the subject to Medicaid expansion and jobs:
What I’m fight for now is more of Georgia values, making sure that we expand Medicaid so that everyone has access to health insurance… and making sure that everyone can get good prosperous jobs across the state of Georgia.
Later, she expanded on the jobs theme by indicating that she would make expanding Medicaid her day one priority, that it would save rural hospitals and create 56,000 jobs in the state and cover haf a million Georgians. All of this is fiction, of course. Medicaid’s lowpayment rates are one of the reasons rural hospitals are closing. Expanding Medicaid would actually cause a loss of jobs across the state in the private sector. She referenced Mike Pence’s expansion of Medicaid in Indiana, but was silent about the accompanying work requirements, which she doesn’t support. When Kemp was permitted to speak, he mentioned Abrams’ tax issues:
It is concerning that Ms. Abrams, being a tax attorney, but did not pay taxes while she took the opportunity to loan her own campaign $50,000. I don’t think anyone should get away with that. When you are putting politics over paying the taxes you owe, that makes you unfit to be Governor.
After Metz also raised the issue, Abrams blamed her tax evasion on Hurricane Katrina:
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit my family. My parents lost their church and most of their income. I became a primary source of income. For the last 15 years I have taken responsibility for my parents… you can defer tax payments but not to responsibility for your family. I paid my bills.
The problem with this balderdash is that Katrina hit a decade before Abrams incurred the unpaid tax liability. And the unpaid student loans (which no one asked about) were incurred a decade before the hurricane. So, this was never about supporting her family. Kemp also pressed Abrams on her invitation to “undocumented” Georgians to vote for her in November. “Ms. Abrams, in a recent video, you called on illegals to vote for you in this election. You were asking for documented and undocumented folks to be a part of your winning strategy. Why are you encouraging people to break the law for you in the election?” She responded with a red herring:
I know the law when it comes to voting. I have never asked anyone legally ineligible to vote to cast ballots. I have asked for those legally eligible to cast ballots. We took you to court in 2016.… You used the exact system under dispute right now.
This is a reference to a bogus lawsuit her organization has filed against Kemp, claiming that he is “suppressing the vote.” It is frivolous nonsense. When she pulled the same stunt in 2016, the case went nowhere. Her registration drive submitted thousands of improper registrations and the Board of Elections tossed them. All of this is well known to residents of Georgia, including the moderators of last night’s debate, one of whom came to Abrams’ rescue by questioning Kemp if he had a conflict of interest by merely running: “Secretary Kemp, do you believe you can impartially oversee the state elections while also running for Governor?”
Kemp explained that all the heavy lifting in the elections is done at the local level, where the election boards tally the votes and certify them. Only after that process is completed are the numbers delivered to the Secretary of State. But no one was listening in the studio. The purpose of the exercise was to provide a platform for Abrams to make excuses for her malfeasance and to make a few promises she has no intention of keeping. Stacey Abrams is a corrupt, fiscally incontinent tax dodger. The voters would be insane to elect her Governor.