Good evening, Georgia. I stand here tonight grateful to the thousands of you who have joined me on this drive to history. We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future. Where no one is unseen, unheard or uninspired. A Georgia where we prosper – together!
I offer my congratulations to Stacey Evans and her campaign and all of her supporters tonight for a hard-fought race. And I know… for the journey that lies ahead, we need every voice in our party – and every independent thinker in the state of Georgia – energized, and by our side to succeed, so I hope you will join our fight for the future.
But our mission is about more than success at the ballot box in November. Our mission is to see beyond the challenges that face us, to create a Georgia where our dreams and aspirations become real and lasting legacies. A state of excellent schools, with jobs that create wealth and opportunity, and good leaders who stand up for all of us. Because that is why we are here. To ensure that all Georgians… from farmers in Montezuma… to mill workers in Dalton know we value them. That educators in Sparta and airport workers in College Park know we see their efforts. That former prisoners across our state working towards more know we believe in their redemption. We are here to ensure that everyone who calls Georgia home has the freedom and opportunity to thrive — to live their very best lives!
I am a product of the power of that mission. I am the child of a shipyard worker and a college librarian, who were called to become United Methodist ministers. A proud daughter of the Deep South. I grew up the second of six children in a family where we struggled to stay above the poverty line, but we never struggled to know what was right or to believe in our possibilities. My parents instilled in us the core values of faith, family, service and responsibility. Hard work is in my bones.
So is a deep respect for those who wake up early and come home tired but ready to read to their kids – or change clothes for a second job. And all those who are just getting by or are doing well but worry for the next generation. A respect for those who care for their loved ones – or who have earned their rest and retirement. A respect for our service members, their families and veterans that call our state home. Our campaign, and our work, is for them and their security – as we shape the future of this state we love.
In this tough race to come, we can find it easy to forget about the solid ground beneath our feet. But we must remember we’re in the state where the red clay gives life to generations of dreamers. The state where Martin marched on ballot boxes and challenged a nation’s conscience. The Georgia that gave us the Godfather of Soul and the queen of the Met – and that sent a peanut farmer to the Oval Office.
Our state’s rich, complicated history courses through our memories on nights like tonight. When the unexpected becomes truth, it reminds us of who we are – how we’ve stumbled and how we’ve flourished– and it commands that we embrace our obligation to live up to Georgia’s tradition of pride and of promise, to remember our complex roots…
Together, we will shape a future with boundless belief and historic investment in our children at the core of every decision we make. That means affordable childcare for families and real pathways of opportunity from cradle to career. Because when all of Georgia’s children have a chance to reach their potential, regardless of their zip code or their family’s salary, we can reach our potential as a state – and unleash the full power of our people.
That’s why public schools must remain the beating heart of Georgia – to propel our young people toward lives of security, happiness and achievement. But even as I speak here tonight, public education is under assault in our state, with our kids and our educators being told to do more and more with less and less.
As the state’s ‘Public Education Governor,’ I will use every tool we have to ensure that we stop shortchanging our children – and sabotaging our futures. Our children deserve better than a basic education. They deserve excellence no matter where they learn; and, together, we will deliver.
We deserve an economy that works in all 159 counties, and gives Georgians the freedom to do more than just survive. We deserve a diverse and inclusive economy, one where everyone can succeed. That gap – between struggle and success – has too often been overlooked by our leaders.
Together, we will renew the respect for the dignity of work in every field, sector and region of Georgia. Including the staff right here in this hotel, who made tonight possible. Everybody wins when we choose to honor hard work with wages you can raise a family on. We can invite corporations to our communities, and at the same time, invest in the thousands of small businesses that keep our neighborhoods alive.
I will be a governor who brings more than jobs to Georgia – together, we can build career pipelines in renewable energy, spur creativity through a growing entertainment industry, and increase the strength of our trade unions to grow an economy that lifts every Georgian. We can build an economy as strong and diverse as our citizens. A state where we can give our people license to dream and the opportunity they deserve to achieve.
Across Georgia, we are ready for more. I was down in Macon a few months ago, where I met Pam, a proud mother about to send both of her daughters off to college. One wants to teach, the other wants to study criminology. The one who wanted to be a teacher was a few months away from giving birth to her own child. Pam understood that for her daughter to have a brighter future, she would spend the next four years raising her grandchild. A choice she made readily, because she dreamed of more for her girls. She is determined that both her girls pursue degrees she never received.
Then I asked Pam about her dreams – beyond her daughters, beyond her grandchild, what did she dream for herself. And, honestly, she looked at me like I was crazy. Finally, Pam told me she’d been a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly for twenty years, and that’s what she’d be doing for the rest of her life. So I asked again, what did she want for herself. She hesitated… and then told me that no one had ever asked her that. And finally she told me: ‘There’s a building down the road from my house in South Macon, and one day, I’d love to turn it into a daycare facility. To help young women like my daughter not have to give up on their dreams. Maybe even give them a new skill. And help kids get a head start.’
But, she told me, no one would ever loan her the money – because who was she to want so much? I’m running for governor because Georgia must invest in Pam, Inc. To see her dreams as vital and real and necessary and true. Because as excited as we may become when a Fortune 500 offers to come to Georgia, we can grow the Georgia 5000 by investing in our people and their solutions for our state. When they hire 10 more neighbors and serve a generation, we all rise.
With a governor who cares as much about Main Street, not only can Georgians like Pam succeed, but if we give them a chance… they can lift up their entire communities. When Pam and her daughters and her grandchild prosper – we are on our way to a future in Georgia that can inspire us all.
Together, we stand prepared to stand up for Georgians who believe they are in this alone. Single mothers sifting through mounting bills on the kitchen table… college grads battling against crushing loan payments that stand in the way of their ambition… Over the last decade, I’ve traveled to rural towns full of anxiety as the ground shifts beneath them… We all know families battling crippling debt – and the very fear that an illness or accident may wipe them out financially – as they try to keep their loved ones safe and cared for…
To these families, and all Georgians I say: I’m with you. I’ve been there. I’m still there. And I’ll never stop fighting for you. For Pam. For Georgia. I am running for you. Because your dreams matter to me – and we can do this better – together.
But we have work to do … in too many ways, Republican leaders have failed these folks. By being too mean and too cheap to expand Medicaid, by jeopardizing our rural hospitals for political gain, they’ve put millions of Georgia families at risk. We can do better than that. I want to lead Georgia because I know we can do more: we can protect our healthcare – and safeguard our kids’ education and their lives… Together, we can continue to fix our criminal justice system and begin to defend our Dreamers… Build the infrastructure that connects us to one another. Repeal campus carry and expand HOPE.
We can lead a stronger Georgia, a more compassionate Georgia, a bold and ambitious Georgia. We can show the old-guard something new – and fight together for the good of all. I want every Georgia family to have the freedom and opportunity to thrive. You deserve nothing less, and I know our Georgia can deliver.
But to claim our victory – to write that next chapter and live those best lives – we have a lot of work to do. We have to reach out to those who do not believe their voices matter. Who have been disappointed again and again by promises made and never kept. Who live in counties crushed by poverty and neglect. In suburbs isolated from jobs and opportunity and sometimes, each other. In cities where lack of affordability makes it harder and harder to stay. In the next six months, we will work together to remake our Georgia.
With your help, we will register every last person we know – and we will talk to Georgians from all walks of life to engage them too. Because our campaign will be a coalition that reaches across backgrounds, sharing our constant belief in our capacity to win. And with your hands knocking and your feet walking and your voices speaking out, every Georgian we touch will understand the value and immense power of the vote.
Inaction can be contagious… but so can a passion for change. From our campuses to our neighborhood blocks to our senior centers, a wave is coming – and I know Georgians won’t stand on the sidelines.
In the Book of Esther, there’s a verse that reminds us we are born for such a time as this. A time to defend our values and protect the vulnerable – stand in the gap and lead the way. A time to know that this democracy only works – when we work for it. That is what we have done tonight and that is what we will continue to do – all the way to victory in November.
Because we know the power of the possible in Georgia. A Georgia that elected Shirley Clarke Franklin and Brenda Lopez and Jason Esteves and Keisha Lance Bottoms and Melanie Hammett and Sam Park. A Georgia that sees diversity as our strength and acceptance as our birthright.
That’s why when I ask for your vote—I’m really asking you to vote for yourself. For the people you know and love, the ones you work beside and worship with. For the Georgians you may never know, but whose fate is undeniably tied to your own. These are the people on my mind tonight. And that’s who will be on my mind every day as I go to work for you as your next Governor.
So tonight, we celebrate… we rejoice and say thank you to all who got us this far… and tomorrow we hit the phones, the doors, and the streets to reach every Georgian with our message. This – is our time to build a Georgia where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to thrive… because our best lives are within reach. This is our moment, and this is our chance to lift up Georgia! And if we fight, if we push, if we work, we will win!
Thank you all. Now let’s get it done!