Michigan Democratic Party teaming up with Stacey Abrams on voting rights

Stacey Abrams at the national NAACP convention | Andrew Roth

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said this week that she won’t be running for president next year, and instead will concentrate on protecting voting rights in 20 states, including Michigan.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes | Andrew Roth

Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Chair Lavora Barnes told the Advance on Wednesday that it’s critical for the party to partner with Abrams’ new effort, Fair Fight 2020.

“With the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression efforts alive and on the rise, and the clear and present threat of foreign election interference, protecting the right to vote is more important than ever,” Barnes said. “The Michigan Democratic Party is proud to partner with Stacey Abrams and her team at Fair Fight 2020 to take voter protection in Michigan to the next level and ensure all of our citizens’ voices are heard.”

Abrams, a Georgia Democrat who narrowly lost her 2018 gubernatorial election amid voter suppression problems, announced the new effort Tuesday at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Las Vegas, the Washington Post reported.

Fair Fight 2020 is “building voter protection teams with Democratic state parties or local allies across the country to protect the right to vote,” according to its website. Abrams had previously formed the group Fair Fight.

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“We’re going to have a fair fight in 2020 because my mission is to make certain that no one has to go through in 2020 what we went through in 2018,” Abrams said.

Last month, Fair Fight organizers met with MDP leaders in metro Detroit looking toward 2020. In 2018, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed a sweeping voting rights ballot initiative, Proposal 3, which includes voting by mail, same-day voter registration, straight-party voting and more.

Abrams has given two high-profile speeches in Michigan in recent months, first at the Mackinac Policy Conference in May and then at the national NAACP convention held in Detroit last month.

Abrams stays quiet on presidential ambitions, boosts ‘civility’

“We’ve got to start putting in place voter registration efforts today,” Abrams said at the NACCP conference. “We’ve got to make sure that the census is not just a conversation but an action plan that we are pursuing, that we’re already talking about what’s going to happen.”

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel, a Michigan native, tweeted a personal attack against Abrams amid media attention she’s receiving this week for boosting voting rights.

Fair Fight 2020’s budget is pegged at between $4 and $5 million, the Post reported. Most of the 20 states are battlegrounds in the Midwest and Southeast.

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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