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House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams took the first step toward a run for Georgia governor, filing paperwork to form a campaign committee for the 2018 contest to replace term-limited Governor Nathan Deal.

Although the move is still considered exploratory, the 43-year old attorney and leader of House Democrats in the state Capitol for the last seven years has long signaled her interest in the race for governor.

Now, with Governor Nathan Deal, wrapping up his final legislative session, prospects on both sides of the political spectrum are throwing their hats in the ring. Three Republicans already have launched full-on campaigns: Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, state Sen. Hunter Hill of Smyrna and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. On the left, Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna has signaled interest to close company; and former state senator Jason Carter remains undecided on the prospect of a second run for Governor. His last run, which was supposed to be a rebirth of the Democrat party fell short of expanding the electorate beyond what was already expected.

“If you look at the data, you’ll see [Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn] received their votes right where you’d expected they’d receive them: Right here in Atlanta, where there is a concentration of Blacks and Latinos, but not enough to move forward,” says Dr. William Boone, political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. “But it did give Democrats something to organize around.”

The 2018 race for Georgia’s highest office will garner unprecedented national scrutiny as it promises to further complicate the nation’s political calculus and serve as a mid-term election referendum, of sorts, on President Donald Trump. Already, 90 percent of contributions to the campaigns to fill the U.S. Congressional District 6 seat left by current U.S. Health and Human Resources Secretary Tom Price, are from political factions outside of the state.

Abrams has spent the better part of the last decade representing portions of Atlanta, DeKalb County and the city of Decatur since 2007 and attempting to turn Georgia “blue” through the non-profit voter registration group she founded in 2013. The New Georgia Project, which aims to register hundreds of thousands of voters and ride the wave of the ever-changing voter demographics in the greater Atlanta region comes on the cusp of the crucial reapportionment of legislative districts scheduled to take place after the 2020 census.

Legislatively, voting rights will likely remain a cornerstone of Abrams’ legislative focus. She opposed House Bill 228 legislation approved on a party-line vote this session that opponents argued could disenfranchise minority voters. The elections bill includes a 26-month deadline for applicants to correct voter registration discrepancies.

The bill came a little more than a month after the state settled a federal lawsuit accusing it of disenfranchising minority voters because of an “exact match” requirement used by the state on registration forms that critics said blocked thousands of them from voter rolls. In the settlement, the state agreed to no longer reject those applications and said applicants would not be under any deadline to correct a mismatch or to confirm their identity unless mandated by a future statutory requirement. To date, the New Georgia Project stated it has thus far registered 200,000 minority voters – about one-quarter of its stated 800,000 goal.

A successful run would mean that Abrams would be the first African American governor in Georgia – and the first black female statewide officeholder in the state’s history.

 

Stacey Abrams files paperwork to run for governor in 2018 was originally published on atlantadailyworld.com

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