Stacey Abrams’ unlikely journey toward the pinnacle of Georgia politics involved foresight and political daring. And all along the way, she remained unapologetically Black.
On Tuesday, she could make history as the nation’s first African-American woman governor and the Peach State’s first Black chief executive.
The Democratic nominee has been unconventional in several ways. Typically in the South, the party backs older white men who lean toward conservatism. Despite being a Black woman with a natural hairstyle who’s also uncompromisingly progressive, none of that has appeared to hinder her march to become governor.
Georgia is one of the reddest states on the political map, yet Abrams was still running neck-and-neck against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘ in the polls. He was holding onto the slimmest of leads in a state that last elected a Democratic governor two decades ago.
This was all coming against the backdrop of Kemp — who has refused to recuse himself from overseeing the state’s election system — seemingly doing everything he can to suppress the Black vote. That included an attempt to block tens of thousands of voter registration applications, about 70 percent of whom were African-Americans.
Despite all of the above, Abrams’ success wasn’t surprising to close observers.
The former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives built a foundation of solid support by expanding the state’s voter base through her leadership of the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit organization that registers disengaged and new voters, explained Jean-Pierre.
“She saw that the demographics of Georgia was changing. It was such a smart idea because it’s something Democrats don’t do enough of to make sure people are registered to vote and expanding the base with first-time voters and giving them a reason to vote,” Jean-Pierre said.
And while the Black vote is very important to her, Abrams’ success has been built on more than just bringing African-Americans to the polls.
“She’s been very inclusive,” Jean-Pierre said. “She’s able to talk about healthcare, for example, an issue that matter to so many people. And she just doesn’t talk about it with the base—Blacks, Latinos, and urban dweller. She also goes out to rural white Georgians who wouldn’t normally talk to a Democrat.”
In the end, the contrast between the two candidates for governor of Georgia couldn’t be more pronounced, Jean-Pierre noted.
“Most people have made up their minds about who they will vote for,” said Jean-Pierre. “She’s now in the phase of getting people excited and going out to the polls. Stacey Abrams has an impressive ability to connect to voters. Meanwhile, the other side is doing fear mongering and voter suppression.”