ALBANY — Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, formally kicked off her gubernatorial campaign in the 2018 election Saturday afternoon at a rally at Chehaw.
Abrams is hoping to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who has served two terms as Georgia’s governor and who cannot seek re-election. Republicans will have held the governorship for 16 years by the end of Deal’s term.
“I am running for governor of Georgia because we must build a future for our state where people can succeed — not just survive,” Abrams said in a news release.
Abrams joins Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who also is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
On the Republican side, four men — Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sen. Hunter Hill of Buckhead and Sen. Micheal Williams of Cumming — have announced their intentions to run.
Abrams, a native of Gulfport, Miss., has ties to Southwest Georgia. Her sister, Leslie Abrams, the first black female federal judge in Georgia, is a U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Georgia. Judge Abrams lives and works in Albany.
She is acutely aware of the divide that splits the state in half psychologically and into wholly different economic regions.
“The governor has three priorities, and he or she has to be able to do them all at the same time,” Abrams said. “We have to educate bold and ambitious children; we have to engage the power of the citizens so they understand this is their government, and we have to have a thriving and diverse economy. We have to realize we are a one statewide coalition and start in the corners of the state in the areas which have always lifted up Georgia, but often get forgotten by politicians in Atlanta.
“Atlanta cannot live without Albany, and Albany cannot live without the investments that come from Atlanta. We need to talk to those forgotten voters, the ones who are rarely talked about. I am running for governor because we need a governor who comes from a town like Albany. Where we begin does not dictate what we become.”
Georgia, Abrams said, must knit into one state, “anyone who says otherwise is not thinking broadly enough.”
In 2010, Rep. Abrams became the first woman to lead either party in the General Assembly and the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives. She has been a member of the Georgia House since 2007 and has served as the House minority leader since 2011.
At 43, Rep. Abrams is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. She is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School.
“We must build a state where the economy works for everyone, and where all Georgians are active partners in their own government,” Abrams said.” I am ready to be a governor who knows that Georgia’s potential is boundless if we commit to imagining a bolder future for ourselves.”
The crowd Saturday appeared to number between 100 and 130 supporters.
“I support (Abrams) because we need more Democrats in Atlanta from this part of the state,” Tracy Taylor of Albany said.
Others were curious to meet the candidate and hear what she had to say.
“We’re out here today to see what plans the Democrats have for Southwest Georgia,” Shunta Williams of Albany said.
Ted Sadler of Sylvester, who publishes a political blog, said he an his colleagues attend all political gatherings.
“We’re here to hear what Ms. Abrams has to say,” Sadler said. “We come to all the political events we can get into. Right now I think she has a long hill to climb. It almost feels a lot like Hillary, but does she have a path to victory?”