In Georgia, a historic primary, a red state that’s blue for sure

We’re up to our ankles in new Democratic primary polls for Georgia gubernatorial. Stacey Abrams announced her intention Tuesday to seek the party’s nomination for governor of Georgia, and polls show her with a…

In Georgia, a historic primary, a red state that's blue for sure

We’re up to our ankles in new Democratic primary polls for Georgia gubernatorial.

Stacey Abrams announced her intention Tuesday to seek the party’s nomination for governor of Georgia, and polls show her with a large lead over the most likely Democratic nominee. But another potentially consequential fact stands out.

For the first time, the first African-American woman to seek a top office in a major state in the United States is a majority-female field. Just 15 percent of Georgia’s gubernatorial candidates this fall have been women so far.

In this Tuesday, June 5, 2018 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks to the crowd before the Louisiana Primary runoff vote in Baton Rouge, La. Abrams, a former state lawmaker and civil rights attorney, has raised more than $7 million and hired senior aides to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to run her campaign. The race has catapulted the 44-year-old Black Lives Matter activist from relative obscurity to one of the country’s most high-profile Democrats . (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Abrams announced Tuesday she’s in a “comfortable lead” of her first polling, and she would be the first female African-American governor of Georgia had she won. So that means she’s basically in a clear and favorable position to govern the state.

But you also need to define how to frame your candidacy. And this has led to a much wider field of candidates, including Abrams’ main opponent to win her party’s nomination, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Several in the field of 15 say they think Abrams should consider running for the presidency because she has a superior résumé. And some say Abrams won’t have time for a potential bid for president, so they’ll try to win her endorsement. (Abrams’ potential running mate is Rep. John Lewis, a liberal stalwart who already is eyeing a 2020 presidential bid.)

She already has a “rival,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Some also are worried Abrams will face a caucus of “establishment Democrats” who will try to keep her out of the race and grab some of her attention. (Voters can still revoke someone’s ballot if they suspect fraud.) But in recent months, not only has Reed and Kemp been running serious campaigns, but so too have several other candidates, and none of them seem to be quaking in their boots.

Abrams’ endorsement issue

Abrams, with none of the baggage typically associated with a two-term incumbent, has been confident in her message. She’s pressed her message about expanding voter turnout (though it’s not clear yet how many minority voters will turn out for her). And she has drawn attention to the increasingly partisan divide that has put Democratic voting power into the hands of states and not local communities.

Abrams has faced some riskier questions, though. Some voters wonder whether she should be allowed to use her former Cabinet post as secretary of education as a campaign ad, for example. And another poll shows her trailing the more popular Kemp in a head-to-head matchup. Both sides have blasted the other for mail-in votes that pushed Abrams into the lead.

Abrams’ potential feud with Trump

Abrams is among a group of prominent Democrats who’ve openly criticized President Trump. And her opponents like Reed have echoed that, saying it’s time for Georgia Democrats to “change the conversation.” (One Republican candidate, running as a moderate, accused Abrams of giving “a victory to the liberals.”) But there is also growing GOP enthusiasm to help Kemp by holding back Abrams.

At a March debate, she said she would have considered running for president had Trump been elected. “That would be so unlikely, I couldn’t imagine,” she said. “He’s a complete and total racist. … That’s why he couldn’t bring himself to support me.” And her opponent has questioned Abrams’ judgment: “You should not have accepted Gov. Kemp’s endorsement, nor the endorsement of Nancy Pelosi.”

Abrams’ appeal lies in her willingness to denounce Trump, and her ability to put herself in a state like Georgia, where the overall black population is just 9 percent, and that population is part of a broader majority-minority state electorate that is expected to swing to the Democrats in a general election, in 2020.

The race is likely to get a lot closer — though the poll numbers haven’t changed significantly since the spring.

This article was originally published at Politics Daily

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