Pete Buttigieg said on Thursday that Stacey Abrams was robbed of the governorship of Georgia, blaming voter suppression for her narrow loss last year.
“Stacey Abrams ought to be the governor of Georgia,” Buttigieg said to applause at the Democratic National Committee’s African American Leadership Summit in Atlanta.
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“When racially motivated voter suppression is permitted, when districts are drawn so that politicians get to choose their voters instead of the other way around, when money is allowed to outvote people in this country, we cannot truly say we live in a democracy,” he continued.
Abrams, who lost to Republican Brian Kemp, was edged out by fewer than 55,000 votes, but still made history as the first African American woman to secure the Democratic nomination for governor.
She has since maintained a high public profile, delivering the Democratic response to the State of the Union address in February and openly flirting with a 2020 presidential run.
She has also been courted by the current Democratic White House contenders. Both Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke were expected to meet privately with Abrams on the sidelines of the leadership summit this week.
Buttigieg’s appearance at the summit is part of an effort to boost his standing with black voters. In a recent poll, the South Bend mayor only won 2 percent of the support of black voters, a key part of the Democratic base. He has publicly acknowledged that he needs to do more to win over African Americans, and he’s pledged to build a campaign team that reflects the country’s diversity.