In a televised interview early Tuesday, former talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry said Democratic gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum of Florida and Stacey Abrams of Georgia will change the way Democrats campaign in the south for decades to come.
In saying so, Harris-Perry was clear that would be the case regardless of the outcome.
“Gillum and Abrams, no matter what, they have changed the idea that Democrats should not be fighting for these seats in the south, and that’s going to have 25 years of impact,” she said.
Still, despite inspiring campaigns that brought out celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Diddy and former President Barack Obama, both Gillum and Abrams fell short of making history.
Unofficial projections show that Republican Ron DeSantis edged Gillum by a razor-thin margin, while Abrams lost to Georgia Republican Brian Kemp in a race that wasn’t as close as many anticipated.
While Gillum fell short of becoming Florida’s first African-American governor and Abrams failed to become the nation’s first African-American female governor, the two appeared to have kept their heads up.
And, in Tallahassee, Gillum supporters said they were devastated but not defeated.
“This has shocked me, but I know [Gillum] has a future not only in this state, but nationally,” said supporter Lori Joseph. “I didn’t want to stick around and hear him concede. Can’t do it, maybe there’s a miscount somewhere.”
Ameena Bryant also didn’t want to stick around for a concession speech from the Tallahassee mayor.
“It’s going to take time to sink in,” Bryant said. “I need to digest this and figure out what is wrong with my country when someone who truly wants to make a difference doesn’t get the support he needs.”
Over in Georgia, the mood was similar. Twitter user Isabella P probably summed it up as well as any Abrams supporter: “We are angry and heartbroken for you. Please hold your head up…. You have shown grace and poise through it all even in the face of evil politics.”
Much had been written about Abrams’ opponent Kemp interfering with voting rights and early reports from Georgia indicated that many polling locations were not up and running in a timely fashion.
Voters in the Peach State dealt with long lines, malfunctioning election equipment and registration discrepancies as they swamped precincts Tuesday with an unprecedented turnout for a midterm election.
Wait times of more than an hour were the most common hurdle facing voters across the state, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
But technical problems, such as failure to plug in voting machines, worsened matters for some voters trying to get their ballots in.
Three precincts in Gwinnett County had some of the most severe difficulties, causing them to stay open past the normal 7 p.m. closing time, the newspaper reported.
The Annistown Elementary precinct remained open until 9:25 p.m. because of extensive issues with the electronic ExpressPoll system, which is used to check in voters before they’re issued voting access cards. Anderson-Livsey Elementary and Harbins Elementary precincts also stayed open late.
Three more precincts in Fulton County also stayed open as late as 10 p.m. because of extremely long lines, missing registration information and a shortage of provisional ballots. Those precincts were located at Pittman Park Recreation Center, Booker T. Washington High and the Archer Auditorium at Morehouse College.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. got involved at the Pittman Park Recreation Center precinct in Fulton County, encouraging voters to remain in line after they had waited for hours. Only three voting machines were initially available before five more were sent out later.
“It’s a classic example of voter suppression, denying people easy access to exercise their right to vote,” Jackson said, according to the newspaper.
Both the Florida and Georgia races turned ugly early. In Georgia, Kemp was accused of suppressing minority voters, while in Florida, DeSantis faced charges of racism after urged voters “not to monkey this up” by voting for Gillum during a Fox News appearance.
Reports also emerged about how a contributor to his campaign reportedly used a racial slur to describe Obama in a now-deleted tweet.
DeSantis denounced the language used by the donor.
President Trump, who supported DeSantis, accused Gillum of being a “thief.”
Gillum was plagued by accusations of corruption after reports emerged suggesting he may have accepted a ticket to the play “Hamilton” from an undercover FBI agent pretending to be an out-of-town developer. Gillum repeatedly denied doing any wrongdoing.
“When I got there after work, got my ticket, we went in and saw it, assumed my brother paid for it,” Gillum said in a Facebook video. “So far as I know, that was the deal.”