Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate who narrowly lost the race for Georgia governor in 2018, will deliver the Democrats’ rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union address Feb. 5. The response is traditionally delivered by member of Congress or a sitting governor, making Abrams an intriguing choice given that she doesn’t currently hold a political office. However, as a progressive black woman who was defeated by one of Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidates, party leaders may be hoping that she can deliver a speech which demonstrates the stark differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Abrams, who is one of six siblings, was born in 1973 in Wisconsin, although her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, during her childhood. Both of her parents later became Methodist ministers. Abrams graduated from Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, and studied public policy at the University of Texas at Austin as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. Abrams received her law degree from Yale Law School in 1999.
While serving as a private tax attorney, Abrams was appointed the Deputy City Attorney for Atlanta at age 29. She was elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 2006, and became the first black woman to serve as minority leader in 2011. She became known for her ability to work across the aisle, and worked with GOP Gov. Nathan Deal on criminal justice reforms, public transportation packages and a scholarship for low-income Georgia students.
In 2018, Abrams ran for governor of Georgia. She prevailed in a primary against Stacey Evans in part because she opted to focus on drawing out like-minded liberal voters instead of attempting to broaden her appeal to swing voters. The strategy was an outgrowth of her work with the New Georgia Project, an officially nonpartisan organization she helped establish that registered tens of thousands of mostly minority voters across the state beginning during the 2014 election cycle.
Abrams was defeated by Republican Brian Kemp in November. She initially the race to Kemp, due to concerns over voting irregularities, but acknowledged that Kemp had won later in the month. If she had won, Abrams would have been the first black female governor in the country. She remains a popular politician among Democrats, and a leader on the grassroots left. In late November, the Abrams-backed group Fair Fight Action filed a federal lawsuit challenging the way Georgia’s elections are run.
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