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Democrat Stacey Abrams makes history, becomes first black woman nominated for governor by a major party

Stacey Abrams will face the winner of the Republican primary, which advanced to a run-off as no candidate crossed the 50% mark. The election for the post of Georgia governor will be held in November.

world Updated: May 23, 2018 20:52 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Stacey Abrams,Georgia governor,Stacey Evans
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters during an election-night watch party on Tuesday.(AP photo)

Georgia state Democrat Stacey Abrams made history on Tuesday by becoming the first African American woman ever nominated for governor by a major party in the United States.

Abrams beat Stacey Evans, a white, to win the Democratic party nomination to run for the governor of Georgia, a Republican-leaning state where Democrats have struggled to win statewide elections. She is, in fact, the first black nominee for governor in the state ever, regardless of gender.

Abrams will face the winner of the Republican primary, which advanced to a run-off as no candidate crossed the 50% mark. The election will be held in November.

Abrams is a Yale law school graduate who rose in politics from the municipal to state level — she is currently the leader of opposition in the Georgia state legislature — as she pursued a side-career writing romantic novels under a nom-de-plume. “(This win belongs to) Everyone who believed that a little black girl who sometimes had to go without lights or running water – who grew up to become the first woman to lead in the Georgia General Assembly – could become the first woman gubernatorial nominee from either party in Georgia’s history,” Abrams wrote in a Facebook post after her victory.

She made history in another way too. The post pointed out that she was the first woman nominated by either party for the post of governor in Georgia.

But Abrams, who is 44, will be known better and forever as the first African American woman to win a major party ticket for governor in all the 50 states of America. As Shaun King, a leading Black Lives Matter activist, noted on Twitter: “Black folk have lived on these lands now for 400 years. Not a single black woman has EVER served as Governor of a single state in the entire history of this nation. That’s an abomination. Ladies & Gentlemen – IT’S TIME.”

The US census bureau states that African Americans form 13.3% of the population, but the country has elected only two back governors until now: Douglas Wilder in Virginia (1989) and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts (2006 and 2010). Pinckney Pinchback was the first African American governor of Louisiana, but he was not elected.

Abrams’s victory on Tuesday night was reason enough for celebration in the community. “I am so excited that my friend Stacey Abrams won Georgia’s Democratic primary to become the nominee for governor - The 1st Black Woman to achieve a major party nomination for governor in history,” tweeted Cory Booker, one of the two African Americans in US senate.

Booker, a Democrat who is eyeing a run for the White House in 2020, had endorsed Abrams as did others with presidential ambitions such as Senator Kamala Harris, who is half African American (father’s side) and half Indian American (mother’s side, who is from Chennai).

Though Abrams beat Evans by a massive margin, her prospects for the election in November 2018 don’t look so bright. Nevertheless, pundits on both sides have conceded that she will be a star attraction and a veritable headline-grabber in the coming months.

The state has been called “reliably Republican” in presidential elections since 1972. Notable exceptions have been local boy Jimmy Carter, a Democrat who won in 1976 and 1980 (though he lost the re-election bid), and Bill Clinton, another Democrat, in 1992. It has voted Republican ever since without a break.

First Published: May 23, 2018 10:26 IST