President Donald Trump’s name won’t be on the ballot in 2018, but his influence will be everywhere.
Just look at the types of candidates who are running: The polarizing president has lured scores of Democratic recruits itching to challenge him and his policies, as well as Republican hopefuls taking up Trump’s “America First” banner. Moderate candidates in both parties will also have to figure out how to best position themselves vis-à-vis a commander in chief loathed or loved by their respective grass roots.
Among those hopefuls are a star African-American state House leader and romance novelist aiming to turn Georgia’s governorship blue, and a Republican congresswoman who made history as one of the country’s first fighter pilots likely to run for an open Senate seat.
As the midterm election year gets underway, here are 10 candidates you should be watching in 2018 races for House, Senate and governor, in alphabetical order:
1. Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D)
Even before Doug Jones won his Alabama Senate seat buoyed by a wave of African-American support, Stacey Abrams argued that Democrats could win statewide races in the South by building coalitions of black support, coupled with suburban Republicans and Democrats. Abrams is looking to put that theory to the test in the Georgia gubernatorial race.
Abrams served as the minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and also helped run The Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group that focused on registering African-American voters in the state. The race is still an uphill battle for Abrams. She faces Stacey Evans, another woman and a member of Georgia’s House of Representatives, in the Democratic primary before she can run against one of the handful of Republicans running for the GOP nomination. Abrams, a Yale Law graduate and successful romance novelist, has attracted national Democratic endorsements, including from former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.