Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams filed paperwork to run for governor. Although she has not yet announced her run, her filing makes it all but certain that she will be the first Democrat to join the 2018 contest.
If she receives the Democratic nomination, Abrams will be the first woman and the first black major party nominee for governor in Georgia’s history. She has served in the state house since 2006, representing a district in the eastern Atlanta. She was elected House minority leader in 2011 and has held that position since. Although she has been a major supporter of national Democratic efforts, she has also worked with Republicans in the Georgia Legislature as a deal-maker (one notable example is her outspoken support for Governor Deal’s 2017 education reform plan-HB 338). And while she has not given up on expanding the Democratic Party in Georgia (see The New Georgia Project), she has also not become a minority leader whose only tactic is opposition.
Other possible contenders for the Democratic nomination include 2014 nominee Jason Carter and state Rep. Stacey Evans, both white moderates who might try appealing to a wider swath of the electorate, including some of the swing voters who may have voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But, as the AJC notes, Abrams will have a big advantage in the Democratic primary considering that black women make up the largest share of the primary electorate. She will likely try to cash in on some of the national connections she made to outspend any potential primary opposition.
As we’ve said before, Democrats have a lot at stake in this election. If they do not capture the governor’s office in 2018, they will not have a seat at the table when redistricting begins after the 2020 census. This could mean another decade of tough elections at the congressional and state legislative level. Demographic changes that are producing a more diverse electorate will probably give Democrats a boost, but there is only so much they can do when they are not drawing the lines. Will Stacey Abrams be the last and best hope for Georgia Democrats in the 2020s? Stay tuned to find out.