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Democratic candidate for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams waves to supporters after speaking at an election-night watch party Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore
The underdog.
FIRSTS

The US is one step closer to electing its first black female governor

By Alice Truong

Stacey Abrams made American history on Tuesday (May 22) when she won the Democratic primary for governor in Georgia, making her the first black female gubernatorial candidate nominated by a major party.

If she pulls off a victory in November against the Republican nominee, who will be decided in a runoff in July, the former state House minority leader will have a number of firsts to her name: the first female governor in Georgia, the first black governor of the state, and the first black woman elected governor in the US.

(Though she was not elected, Barbara Jordan in 1972 briefly served as the first female and first black governor of Texas when governor Preston Smith and lieutenant governor Ben Barnes were both out of the state on the same day.)

Abrams, of course, still faces an uphill battle in the deep South, which hasn’t elected an African-American governor since reconstruction. As the New York Times (paywall) points out, she’ll need strong turnout from black voters to stand a chance in November, and she is unlikely to spend much time courting rural white voters. In Georgia, non-Hispanic white voters comprise 53% of the population and have traditionally voted in strong numbers.

“Tonight’s victory was only the beginning,” said Abrams in a Facebook post. “The road to November will be long and tough, but the next step is one we take together.”

Abrams’s victory comes as a record number of women are running for governor across the US. According to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, 47 women have filed to run for governor, and there are another 27 identified as likely candidates who have not filed yet.