Midterm Madness: Abrams vs. Kemp
Gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp both had rallies held on their behalf less than a week before Election Day. After former President Barack Obama accepted to speak at the “Get Out The Vote” rally, hosted by the Georgia Democratic Party, sitting President Donald Trump announced he would host a campaign rally with a focus on endorsing Republican candidates Kemp and lieutenant governor candidate Geoff Duncan.
Last Ditch Efforts
The Georgia Democratic Party distributed free Get Out the Vote rally tickets on a first come first served basis on Halloween from 2 o’clock to 5 o’clock. The party’s distributed the tickets across their 11 campaign offices. Outside the Gwinnett office, people camped overnight in hopes of acquiring tickets. “I arrive at the [Gwinnett] office at 11:15 and there were about 70 people,” said Lakeside community member Renee Wilson, who picked up the tickets for us said, “by the time they started passing out tickets there were at least a 1,000 people in line.”
When my mom and I arrived at 9:30 am on the day of the rally, the line already surpassed two blocks to get into the arena for the rally. When the doors opened at five, the crowd surpassed Forbes Arena’s 6,000 person capacity. People like Decatur resident Natalie Karp-Allowitz saw the rally as an “opportunity to support Democratic candidates and help turn the state blue.” Speakers at the rally included lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico, civil rights activist John Lewis, candidate to represent Georgia's 6th congressional district Lucy McBath, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Raphael G. Warnock, Abrams, and Obama. Warnock called the stadium to hold hands in prayer to commemorate the lives lost at the Tree of Life Synagogue. He also said in is his prayer that “justice is love seen in public.” Other speakers at the rally urged the attendees to use their right to vote. “Voting is the most non-violent way to protest in this country and we must use it,” said Lewis.
Trump’s re-election campaign distributed tickets for the Trump rally, held two days after the “Get Out Your Vote” rally, for free online via the President’s campaign site. The event’s advertising focused heavily on Trump, and many supporters were decked out in Trump gear, with a few Kemp stickers strung about. Thousands of tickets were allocated online to people from as far as North Carolina and Alabama. Shuttle busses covered in Trump 2020 signs carried supporters from across Georgia to the obsolete airport hangar, next to which one could see foldable chairs and tents littering the grass where some spent the night in wait of the President. “It’s nice for a change that someone’s doing what he says for once, even if you don’t agree with him,” said Georgia native Clinton Currie. When asked why he supported Trump and Kemp Currie said, “ Kemp got here today because he said ‘I’m going to fire up my truck and load the immigrants and take them to the border myself.” When the doors opened, the line far surpassed the space allowed for attendees to stand inside the hangar, and the crowd had filled up the fenced in area around the hangar entrance.
Speakers at the rally included Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party John Padgett, President Trump’s diversity coordinator Bruce Levell, former governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, Kemp, and Trump. Levell led a prayer thanking god for President Trump as well as honoring Georgia veterans and farmers. When Trump took the stage, the crowd erupted in a cacophony of cheers. During his speech, the President stressed his stances on major issues this election such as immigration and healthcare. “We don’t protect our own borders, [but] we are protecting them now,” said Trump, “the Democrats want this chaos at the borders.” Republican candidate Brian Kemp thanked President Trump and his administration for their work and support as well as the Georgians who have supported him. Referencing Georgia’s long history of Republican leadership and his speech with a note of optimism, Kemp said, “we will go to work as Georgia republicans like we’ve done over the last sixteen years.”