Speaking to Missouri Democrats at the party’s convention kickoff Friday evening, Stacey Abrams had a message for supporters: “Take your power back.”
Abrams, who lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial contest, headlined the opening night of the party’s convention via Zoom video. She encouraged voters to back candidates who would “do more” to challenge economic injustice, systemic racism, and climate change.
“As voters, as constituents, as citizens, you have the right to take your power back. You have the right to finally reclaim what was stolen from Mike Brown, to reclaim what was stolen from Ferguson,” Abrams, who’s been rumored to be on the shortlist for presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, said. “You have the power to create change, and that change is not just for you.”
In what largely sounded like a campaign stump speech to fire up supporters, Abrams specifically called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, two Republicans. She said Parson “doesn’t deserve to have the job” as governor if he doesn’t expand absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And as for Ashcroft, Abrams said, “We know that Jay Ashcroft is not ready for leadership if he doesn’t use his power to ensure that a notary requirement that puts people’s lives at risk, that puts the notary’s life at risk, is the wrong message to send to Missouri.”
“I challenge every person in Missouri to tell the leadership they have now to go home and say, ‘Show me who you are,’ and you will show them what you deserve,” Abrams said.
Parson has already signed a bill expanding voting methods during the coronavirus pandemic. The law allows anyone who has contracted COVID-19 or is considered to be at-risk to vote absentee without notarization in 2020. Additionally, voters can request a mail-in ballot for the 2020 elections from the local election authority, but this would need to be notarized and returned in the mail.
Earlier Friday, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democrat challenging Parson for his seat this year, held a virtual press conference to implore the governor to issue a blanket order allowing any Missouri order to vote absentee without a notary due to the pandemic.
Aside from her candidacy in Georgia, Abrams is the founder of Fair Fight, an organization that bills itself as a promoter of “free elections” in the Peach State. She was also the first woman to lead a party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first black leader in the Georgia House.
And Abrams said Friday she does have a connection to Missouri: As a Truman Scholar in college, the former gubernatorial candidate said she’s spent a lot of time in Liberty.
“We hope to show you what Missouri can bring,” Jean Peters Baker, the chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said.
Galloway, state Sen. Jill Schupp, and state Rep. Deb Lavender also spoke during the Friday night event. Additionally, Yinka Faleti, candidate for secretary of state, and Vicki Englund, candidate for state treasurer, addressed supporters.
“Change begins at the ballot box,” Faleti said. “We cannot move forward if we cannot elect the leaders we believe will be able to unite us; lead us in doing the work; and thereby lead us in moving forward. We cannot move forward if the voices of the oppressed are being suppressed.”
The Missouri Democratic Party State Convention will convene on June 13.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.