Stacey Abrams and Conor Lamb are supposed to represent opposite poles of the Trump-era Democratic Party. She is the new progressive heroine — the first black woman to win a major-party nomination for governor, who will need a surge of liberal turnout to win Georgia. He is the new centrist hero — the white former Marine who flipped a Western Pennsylvania congressional district with support from gun-loving, abortion-opposing Trump voters.
But when you spend a little time listening to both Abrams and Lamb, you notice something that doesn’t fit the storyline: They sound a lot alike.
They emphasize the same issues, and talk about them in similar ways. They don’t come across as avatars of some Bernie-vs.-Hillary battle for the party’s soul. They come across as ideological soul mates, both upbeat populists who focus on health care, education, upward mobility and the dignity of work.
During her victory speech in a hotel ballroom last week, Abrams recognized the hotel’s workers. In a television ad, Lamb said it always bothered him that teachers and construction workers didn’t get the public respect that he did as a Marine. When asked what one thing she would like to change about Georgia, Abrams named its failure to expand Medicaid. In his campaign, Lamb took on Paul Ryan for referring to Medicare and Social Security as an entitlement — “as if,” Lamb said, “it’s undeserved.”