Candidates tackled voter suppression and reproductive rights, both issues that have come to the fore front of Georgia politics in the last year.
Held at Tyler Perry Studios in East Point, the November Democratic Debate was hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post. The 330-acre studio sits on the grounds of the historic Fort McPherson army base and is the first fully black-owned production company.
Candidates included former vice president Joe Biden, 76, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, 50, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, 38, California Sen. Kamala Harris, 55, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 59, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, billionaire executive Tom Steyer, 62, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 70, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, 44.
Two of the issues that came up were voter suppression and Governor Brian Kemp’s proposed abortion law. The proposed law, dubbed the “Heartbeat Bill,” would make abortion illegal after six weeks, when the fetal heartbeat can be detected.
“Today, the State Senate affirmed Georgia’s commitment to life and the rights of the innocent unborn,” Governor Brian Kemp said when the bill passed. “I applaud the members who supported the heartbeat bill’s passage for protecting the vulnerable and giving a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves.”
However, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones blocked the bill from going into effect. Federal judges also blocked similar laws from going into effect in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.
“Abortion rights are human rights,” Warren said. “If abortion is made illegal, rich women will still get abortions.”
“I want to be an America where everyone has a chance,” Warren continued. “A woman should be able to call on her mother, her partner, her priest, her rabbi, but the one entity that should not be in the middle of that decision is the government.”
Candidates also brought up the issue of voter suppression, an issue that hits home to many Georgia voters. During the 2018 governor race, Kemp was sued and accused of suppressing 53,000 registered voters, most of whom were African-American.
“It’s a voter suppression issue,” Booker said. “It’s voter suppression that prevented us from having governor Stacey Abrams right now.”
“We need federal leadership to establish voting rights for the 21st century,” Buttigieg said. “We cannot allow the kind of racially motivated or partisan voter suppression or gerrymandering that often dictates the outcome of elections before the voting even begins.”
The next democratic debate will be Dec. 19 at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in Los Angeles and will air on PBS.