May 23, 2018 — With well-liked Governor Nathan Deal stepping down at the end of his two-term limit, the Georgia governor’s race has become the midterm election to watch. In last night’s primaries, Stacey Abrams edged out State Representative Stacey Evans to advance as the Democratic candidate. In November she will go up against either Lieutenant Governor Casey Cage or Secretary of State Brian Kemp, both of whom advanced to the Republican primary runoff to be held on July 24.

Abrams, who is a former minority leader of the Georgia House, would be both the first black governor of Georgia and the first black female governor of any U.S. state. She has already made history as Georgia’s first black nominee for governor. The foundation of her campaign is representing the “Georgia of tomorrow,” and her focus will be on mobilizing her core supporters, particularly young people, women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

 

While Atlanta is often called the “capital of black America” and the state’s demographics are changing rapidly, Georgia has elected Republican governors since 2003, and the state voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election (at just over 50 percent). Abrams’ work is certainly cut out for her, but she is another example of Democratic women finding success in this year’s primaries. Another woman celebrating today is former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who upset Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the Democratic House primary in Kentucky.

Back in Georgia, voters will want to keep a close eye on the Sixth and Seventh Districts, both traditionally Republican strongholds in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, where incumbents will likely face strong Democratic challengers in November.

1979 was the last time a Democrat represented Georgia’s Sixth District, notorious for being the state’s most competitive congressional district. In last year’s special election, Karen Handel — another woman who made history by serving as Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state — was forced to put up a strong fight to beat Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Handel is up for reelection this year, and determined challengers Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel, both of whom advanced to the Democratic primary runoff, are hoping to unseat her.

In the Seventh District, Carolyn Bordeaux and David Kim advanced to the Democratic runoff. The winner of the runoff will face incumbent Rob Woodall in November in what could be the most competitive election of his career so far. While Woodall has never received less than 60 percent of votes in an election, his district is mostly based in Gwinnett County, which voted Democratic in the 2016 election for the first time since 1976.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting midterm election year, and Focus: Atlanta will be keeping a close eye on the races in Georgia.