Stacey Abrams' Debt Is All Her Opponents Can Talk About, But Twitter Can Seriously Relate
The Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia — who would be the first black woman governor in the nation if elected — has, like most Americans, a lot of debt, including some from credit card and some from student loans. Stacey Abrams's debt has been an easy target by Republicans, but Twitter isn't buying those attacks.
Abrams first spoke about her financial situation in depth in an April commentary for Fortune. She claimed she's gone into more than $170,000 of debt much the way other Americans do, particularly by obtaining a higher education and helping out her parents and other family members when they needed her. She also said she owes over $50,000 to the IRS in deferred payments, for which she is on a repayment plan.
But that hasn't stopped the Republican attack ads. “One million dollars. That’s how much Stacey Abrams made over the last five years," an ad released by the Republican Governors Association begins. "But when it came time to pay her $54,000 tax bill, she didn’t."
On Friday, Aug. 10, Abrams responded to that argument, saying in two tweets that her opponent (Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the Republican nominee) is focused on her personal finances "instead of discussing the challenges Georgians face." Abrams wrote, "Unforeseen financial troubles aside, I've never ignored my responsibilities. I am paying my taxes & will meet my obligations."
Others on Twitter supported her argument, defending her from the politicized attacks. Peter Daou, a Democratic strategist who worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign pointed to apparent Republican hypocrisy. "Don't you just love how rich Republicans pretend to be anti-elitist but a Democratic candidate like @staceyabrams, who is in debt, is attacked for facing the same financial struggles as most working Americans," he wrote.
Others pointed specifically to Republican men who are in debt. Brian Fallon, director of Demand Justice, a group that works to have liberal justices confirmed to the country's courts focused on the debt of Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's SCOTUS nominee.
"Why is it that Stacey Abrams is coming under attack for her student loan debt while everyone nods politely over Brett Kavanaugh going $200k into debt from baseball season tickets and country club dues?" Fallon wrote on Twitter.
Everyday Americans' comments seemed to be more commiseration than attacks. "This makes her even more human. She's in debt like me! Hold strong and keep moving forward!" wrote user @AyrieGirl.
"Yep! I'll be paying til I'm dead," wrote user @cleareyedtrvlr with the hashtags #studentloans and #Columbia.
"Really? Having student loans is disqualifying for public office now?" wrote user @shayanmodarres. "I’d rather be represented by someone who knows my struggle than have a bunch of elected officials whose favorite pasttime is parking their boats inside their yachts."
As Republicans continue bring up her debt, leading up to the election on Nov. 6, Abrams continues to make the argument that debt doesn't disqualify her from office. Perhaps her most eloquent defense came in her Forbes commentary:
Money dictates nearly step of social mobility from the very first moments of life. How much our parents make often determines whether we go to college. It affects the jobs we get offered and the ones we can afford to take. If the goal is entrepreneurship, good luck getting access to the capital you need to build a business. Even with a well-paid job, we often live paycheck to paycheck.
Abrams' exploration of the reasons Americans are in debt can only help her to get elected, she posits. "I am running for #GAGov because I personally understand the challenges so many Georgians face," Abrams posted to Twitter last week. "I have a vision for our state where every family has the freedom and opportunity to thrive."
To put the plan into place, first she'll have to win. Luckily, Twitter seems to have her back in the debt argument.