There has never been a Black female governor in any of the 50 United States. On this random Tuesday in May of 2018, however, one state in the heart of old Confederacy took a giant step toward rectifying that historical oversight.
State lawmaker Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for governor in the great state of Georgia tonight, and she’ll be on the ballot in November. Her likely opponent is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who held a commanding lead in the Republican primary at press time.
“Her nomination is sure to draw intense national attention in the general election,” The New York Times reported late Tuesday. In her primary race alone, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Abrams, and Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris – from New Jersey and California, respectively – both made trips south to campaign for her.
More from The Times:
“Georgia voters [will] determine whether a black woman can win in the Deep South, a region that has not had an African-American governor since reconstruction.”
No matter the results of that race, however, Stacey Abrams has already made history. She’s both the first African American female to win either major party’s nomination for governor anywhere in the U.S., and the first African American of any gender to do so in Georgia.
Ms. Abrams issued a statement on Facebook following her primary victory and quickly turned her attention toward November.
“Tonight, communities that are so often overlooked — whose values are never voiced — stood with us to say: Ours is the Georgia of tomorrow,” she wrote, calling Georgia “a state where diversity is a strength. A state where progress is more than possible.”
She also thanked, “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.”
Her challenge in November is an uphill one, to put it mildly. Georgia is still a conservative state where 53% of registered voters are white. It’s also a place where most voters outside the cultural hub of Atlanta aren’t naturally receptive to her progressive ideology that’s more reflective of the Bernie Sanders / Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.
Still, don’t count her out. As the Times notes, “Ms. Abrams’s candidacy comes at a volatile moment in Georgia, where demographic changes are creating fresh uncertainty about Republicans’ dominance, and when left-leaning voters are highly energized.”
In other words: buckle up.