In her newly released ad, former Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Stacey Evans, moves away from her introductory video into distinguishing herself from her opponent the former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. This short commercial may answer the questions many democrats have – why you and not the other Stacey?
In the commercial, an African American high school senior discusses Georgia’s greatest asset, the HOPE Scholarship. More than 50% of democrats are undecided in the primary election that ends May 22nd. Democrats are having a hard time identifying why they should support one Stacey over the other. Evans’ commercial helps to make clear an important difference between the two women. No mudslinging or insults (or guns pointed at minors), simply facts that have been verified.
The video shows a photo of Abrams proudly standing with Governor Nathan Deal, Speaker David Ralston, and Republican Candidate for Governor Casey Cagle, as they proudly gutted the HOPE scholarship in 2011. More than 97% of African American college students in Georgia lost access to full college scholarships due to that cut.
Abrams’ campaign is running on making history as an African American and is relying on the black vote in metro Atlanta to win the primary. Evans has worked to restore the scholarship and she makes it clear that restoring HOPE for all Georgians is the primary reason she is running for Governor. This commercial goes to the heart of both issues.
Abrams claims on her website “Under the strain of the unprecedented Great Recession, HOPE was again on the chopping block in 2011. The Republicans had the votes to make massive cuts to the program.” The question for Abrams then becomes, “If the Republicans had the votes they needed to pass the legislation without your help, then why stand with them?”
Abrams could have rallied Democrats in the state to provide pressure and fight the issue. It is not uncommon to use the power of the people, the media, and other political issues to stop bad legislation. Abrams has done a great job at using her national platform to promote her campaign but did not use it to protect college students. Instead of fighting, Abrams signed on to the massive cuts, kept the Democratic caucus out of the loop, and still hails this as an accomplishment on her campaign website.
Even when politicians must compromise, they are not forced to stand in the photo op promoting the change as if it was a good idea. It appears from her leadership on the issue, Abrams was not just a bystander but rather a proud leader in removing a chance at a college education for more than 60,000 Georgians. Abrams could have negotiated in the back room to make the cuts less harmful yet still vote against them as she has done before. Abrams proudly standing with the republican leadership indicates she played a bigger supporting role than she now wants to acknowledge.
We all want politicians who understand the give and take of politics. Yet there are some values you do not compromise. Although the commercial focuses on the HOPE scholarship, this discussion underscores a more important decision for all democrats. When you have the chance to make history by electing the first woman governor, when both candidates are intelligent, both candidates are capable of doing the job, both candidates are better than everyone on the other side — how do you chose?
In this commercial Evans makes the case for choosing the candidate that knows some compromises, like gerrymandered districts, removing all black school board members, and cutting scholarships, are never acceptable.