Georgia Democrats selected the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States on Tuesday, choosing Stacey Abrams, a liberal former State House leader, who will test just how much the state’s traditionally conservative politics are shifting.
By handily defeating Stacey Evans, also a former state legislator, Ms. Abrams also became Georgia’s first black nominee for governor, a prize that has eluded earlier generations of African-American candidates in the state. The general election is sure to draw intense national attention as Georgia voters determine whether a black woman can win in the Deep South, a region that has not had an African-American governor since Reconstruction.
She will face either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the top Republican vote getter Tuesday, or Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Mr. Cagle and Mr. Kemp will vie for their party’s nomination in a July runoff.
Ms. Abrams’s victory, confirmed by The Associated Press, came on the latest 2018 primary night to see Democratic women finding success, as voters in Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas also went to the polls. Among the winners was Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, who upset Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington in a House primary in Kentucky.
But it was the breakthrough of Ms. Abrams that drew the most notice. A 44-year-old Yale Law School graduate who has mixed a municipal career in Atlanta and statehouse politics with running a small business and writing a series of romance novels under a nom de plume, she is now a central character in the midterm elections and the Democratic Party’s quest to define itself.
In a Facebook post declaring victory Tuesday night, Ms. Abrams, who won more than 75 percent of the vote, acknowledged the general election would be tough and cast herself as the candidate representing “the Georgia of tomorrow.”
Speaking later to a throng of supporters at a downtown Atlanta hotel, Ms. Abrams did not directly invoke her barrier-breaking nomination but held up her candidacy as a sign of the state’s progress.
“We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” she said.
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