By Natasha Bach
May 23, 2018

Stacey Abrams may be on the brink of making history.

The former state House minority leader defeated former state Rep. Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary in Georgia’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday, making her the first black woman in the nation’s history to be a major party’s nominee for governor.

Abrams’ opponent in the general election will be either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Cagle and Kemp will face each other in a runoff for the Republican nomination in July since all of the candidates failed to receive more than 50% of the vote on Tuesday.

If Abrams wins, she will become the first black woman to be elected governor in the U.S., as well as the first black governor and first female governor to serve in Georgia.

Armed with endorsements from the likes of Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and campaign support from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris, Abrams will face an uphill battle in November.

Georgia hasn’t elected a black governor since reconstruction. Non-Hispanic white voters comprise 53% of the state’s population—a bloc that tends to vote in large numbers. Young and nonwhite Georgians, despite comprising a growing share of the population, do not reliably vote in non-presidential elections, and some are not registered at all, according to The New York Times. Nevertheless, Abrams hopes to energize this latter group, as white and rural Georgians have largely abandoned the Democratic Party.

Abrams will also need to gain support from white women in order to win in November, according to The Times. While white women have helped other Democrats win in a number of primaries and special elections since 2016, nearly 7 in 10 voted for Trump in Georgia.

If Abrams succeeds in driving nonwhite voter turnout and gaining some of the white female vote, she would join just three other black women who are serving in state elected executive offices right now: Jenean Hampton, the Republican lieutenant governor of Kentucky and Democrats Denise Nappier and Sheila Oliver, who are serving as Connecticut State Treasurer and New Jersey Lt. Gov., respectively.

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