Stacey Abrams and Kerry Washington appear during a campaign rally in Stone Mountain on Saturday, October 22, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Emmy award-winning actress Kerry Washington joined Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Saturday morning for a women-led get-out-the-vote rally.

Washington was the master of ceremonies. Attending along with Abrams was Democratic candidate for Attorney General Jen Jordan, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Bee Nguyen, and Democratic candidate for Labor Commissioner William K. Boddie.

Washington recalled her character from ‘Scandal,’ Olivia Pope, who led a group of ‘gladiators’ that fixed sordid scandals that ensnare political figures and business leaders. Additionally, candidates sought Pope’s services out to rectify improprieties. While the show was based on Judy Smith, an expert in crisis management from the former President George W. Bush administration, Washington labeled Abrams as a fixer in her own right.

Actress Kerry Washington speaks during a Stacey Abrams campaign rally in Stone Mountain, Georgia on Saturday, October 22, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

“She has looked out for the least of us,” Washington said. “She has been aware of the most vulnerable, and she has stepped in to know where she can make a difference. And she has made that difference. She’s helped small businesses. She stood with that. She still stood with the LGBTQ+ community. She’s unapologetically pro choice. She’s walked across the aisle to bring communities together. She fights for fair housing for fair votes. But this is the year where we finish the business.”

Abrams spoke for thirteen minutes. During that time, she notably highlighted the impending closure of Atlanta Medical Center to illustrate her reasoning to expand Medicare and Medicaid in Georgia. 

“Look, when I was here at Spelman College, it was called Georgia Baptist,” Abrams explained. “When I was working as a state legislator, it was called Atlanta Medical Center. It’s been around for 120 years. This is a hospital that could survive 120 years but couldn’t survive Brian Kemp. 

We need a governor who believes in expanding Medicaid and putting health insurance cards in our pockets and opportunity in our lives and saving the communities that he’s supposed to serve. We need a governor who doesn’t think that it’s okay for him to have health insurance but nobody else because he is refusing our money. He is condemning people to die in the state of Georgia.”

Bee Nguyen speaks during a campaign rally in Stone Mountain on Saturday, October 22, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Most national polls have incumbent Governor Brian Kemp in the lead by four to seven points, but the enthusiasm on the ground has flown in the face of recent polling data. 

In the first five days of early voting, 660,139 people voted early in Georgia, shattering records. This year’s voting cycle is the first to mandate Saturday voting. Shortly after 1:30 PM on Saturday, after the Abrams rally ended in Stone Mountain, 51,825 voters cast their ballots, surpassing the turnout for the first Saturday in 2018 (30,712), according to Gabriel Sterling, an elections official inside the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Indications are Georgia will exceed turnout for the first Saturday in 2020 (66,067).

A deeper examination shows 37.7% of Black people have voted early, up 3% from 2020 and 4.7% since 2018. In America’s shiniest battleground state, the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race between Republican challenger Herschel Walker and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock appears to be close heading to the final two weeks. However, the claims suggesting there’s an enthusiasm gap heading into the midterms in Georgia is greatly exaggerated. The Georgia electorate is largely educated on the issues and Democrats are squarely focused on exercising and protecting their right to vote.  

“We have experienced record turnout all this week, because Georgians understand exactly what is on the line in this election,” Nguyen said. “But let’s be very clear here: The reason why we are experiencing record turnout is not because of Georgia Republicans. It’s because of Georgia organizers. Let’s remember in 2020 and in 2021, people counted us out. They said Georgia isn’t going to win. And we responded by showing up in record numbers. We responded by coming together with our broad based coalition based on the shared values of equality and justice for all on the democracy of humanity and we delivered wins.”

Democratic candidate for Georgia Attorney General Jen Jordan speaks during a campaign rally in Stone Mountain on Saturday, October 22, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

It’s no secret that actors, entertainers and musicians have previously joined or will follow Abrams on the last two weeks of the campaign trail heading to November 8th. Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Charlemagne Tha God, the aforementioned Kerry Washington, each have appeared with Abrams in various get out the vote campaigns. This year’s governor’s race is expected to be decided by 60,000 votes or less, the strategy to inspire and turnout votes will be paramount.

Meanwhile, Washington has been outspoken in the world of politics in the last couple of years. In August 2020, Washington guest hosted an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live in which she interviewed Abrams shortly after former First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a speech during that year’s Democratic National Convention. Since then, they’ve maintained a friendship that extends beyond politics. However, the Abrams camp believes if they continue to do the work, they will cross the proverbial finish line first.

“We are on the verge of victory in the state of Georgia,” Abrams said. “They know that their stories are getting nastier and their palms are getting sweaty.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...