The Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia is firing back at criticism from President Trump. Stacey Abrams was quick to respond to a Wednesday tweet, in which the president called Abrams weak on the military, veterans and the second amendment. It was part of a message congratulating Republican Brian Kemp for winning the runoff election Tuesday night to secure his candidacy for the general election.
Abrams took the insult in stride. She wrote, “Proud to join the company of Gov. @RalphNortham, Senator @DougJones, Rep. @ConorLambPA, and other Democrats he’s campaigned against all the way to victory.”
Abrams is hoping to make history in Georgia. If elected, she would become the first African-American woman to be elected to a governor’s office in the United States. She secured her own primary win in May in a landslide, with 53 percentage points.
As Abrams mentioned in her tweet, recent elections have revealed that a Trump endorsement does not necessarily guarantee victory, even in traditionally red states.
Here’s what you need to know.
Virginia Elected a Democratic Governor After Multiple Jabs by President Trump
In November 2017, then-lieutenant governor of Virginia Ralph Northam overcame attacks from the president to win the post of Governor. President Trump accused Northam of being weak on crime, and supporting “violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities.”
In the weeks leading up that election, President Trump tweeted multiple messages of support for Republican Ed Gillespie. But it wasn’t enough. Northam defeated Gillespie with nearly 54 percent of the vote.
After that race, Trump wasted no time placing the blame for the loss directly on the Republican candidate. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”
It’s worth noting that Virginia went blue for the past three presidential elections. The state had been a consistent Republican-leaning state from 1968 to 2004. Barack Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to win Virginia, bolstered in large part by African-American and Hispanic voters.
President Trump Pushed Hard for Senate Candidate Roy Moore from Alabama Despite Accusations of Child Molestation Against Moore
In 2017, Alabama voters were selecting a new Senator in a special election. The GOP establishment got behind Luther Strange in the primary. But the Republican leadership in Washington was surprised when state judge Roy Moore secured the nomination. President Trump quickly switched his stance on Moore and backed him wholeheartedly against Democrat Doug Jones.
But Roy Moore’s campaign went downhill in a hurry, as he faced multiple accusations of sexual assault against underage girls. Top Republicans leaders including Senator Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan called on Moore to drop out of the race. White House Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Trump agreed that “if the allegations are true” then Moore should step aside.
As all of this drama played out on the national stage, Moore refused to back out of the race. President Trump came back around to him, telling reporters that Moore “totally denies” the accusations. About a week before the election against Doug Jones, Trump urged Alabama voters on twitter to support Moore, arguing that Congress needed his conservative vote.
But Doug Jones defied the odds in the deeply red state, narrowly beating Moore by about 20,000 votes. As NPR reported, it was the first time Alabama voters had elected a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years.
Democrat Conor Lamb Turned a Deeply Red District in Pennsylvania Blue Despite a Massive Spending Effort by Republicans
The defeat of Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th district in March 2018 sent shockwaves through the GOP establishment. President Trump carried that district by 20 points in 2016. Saccone described himself as “Trump before Trump was Trump.” President Trump lashed out at Democrat Conor Lamb during a campaign rally a few days before the election, calling him “Lamb the sham.”
Another factor that made the loss even more surprising was the Republican Party far outspent the Democrats. The Washington Post reported that Saccone’s allies spent more than $9 million, whereas the Democrats spent less than $1 million.
But Conor Lamb, a former Marine and assistant U.S. attorney, gained support among union workers in the district, who had previously been closely aligned with the former Republican lawmaker Tim Murphy. (He resigned in October amid scandal).
Lamb also appealed to voters by sending a different message as a Democrat. He stressed to voters that he strongly supports the second amendment. He’s personally against abortion, though does respect Roe v. Wade. And Lamb told voters that Democrats in Congress need fresh blood in their leadership. He vowed he would not support Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The race was tight all the way to the end. Lamb was declared the winner several days after the ballots closed. He had won by less than 800 votes.