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Why Democratic presidential prospects are rushing to back Georgia's Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams' bid to become the first female African-American governor in America is the hottest ticket in Democrats...

Posted: May 21, 2018 8:31 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 8:31 PM

Stacey Abrams' bid to become the first female African-American governor in America is the hottest ticket in Democrats' shadow 2020 presidential primary.

In Georgia's Tuesday primary, Abrams, the former state House minority leader, faces former state Rep. Stacey Evans for the Democratic nomination in what will be a closely-watched governor's race.

Just ahead of the primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Abrams, and California Sen. Kamala Harris visited Georgia to campaign for her. In January, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was in Atlanta for events supporting Abrams.

Nina Turner, the president of Our Revolution, the organization that emerged from Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, spent the weekend in Georgia turning out the vote for Abrams.

The national figures' interest in the race and national support for Abrams is in part a result of her appeal to both the Democrats' progressive wing and its African-American base.

There's also Georgia's status as a key state in both the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. It votes on Super Tuesday, and black Democratic voters in the South are a crucial source of delegates. The formerly deep-red state has also emerged as competitive in general elections.

Hillary Clinton's strength with black voters in the South was at the core of her strategy to clinch the party's 2016 nomination, and Sanders was never able to make up the ground he'd lost there later in the nominating process.

Abrams' emergence as a Democratic star, fueled by her calls for massive black voter registration efforts, became clear to a national audience in August 2017, when the progressive gathering Netroots Nation was held in Atlanta.

Abrams was among the biggest stars at the event. And Evans attempted to speak, too. But protesters accusing Evans of taking stances on education issues similar to President Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, drowned her out for about 10 minutes with chants of "trust black women."

Evans is still seen as a strong candidate, and amid all the national attention, Abrams' campaign has become sensitive to the potential perception that she is ignoring local voices.

Abrams' list of endorsements on her campaign website first highlights a long list of Georgia Democrats and local organizations. Only at the very end of the list is a group of "Additional Supporters" comprised of national figures.

"Of course, we are really thrilled about the national support and endorsements we have received from senators from members of Congress, but really what we want folks to know is we have a really strong base of local support as well," an Abrams aide said, arguing that Abrams has told supporters and aides that her campaign is "grounded here in Georgia but nationally known."

The aide acknowledged that campaigns like Abrams could make winning Georgia in two years easier for Democrats.

"The tilling of that soil is really important," the aide said, arguing that the state won't be flippable without competitive Democratic races.

The rush to back Abrams also represents Democrats' hope that 2020 will be the year they turn Georgia blue for the first time since then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won the state in 1992.

Democrats from Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez on down remain bullish about their prospects in 2020 in a state Trump only won by 5 percentage points in 2016, making it closer than traditional swing states like Ohio and Iowa.

Booker, who has focused much of his endorsement travel in 2018 on colleagues in the Senate, has stepped out and endorsed two candidates for governor so far, Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland.

Both are African-American leaders in their respective states, and a senior aide to the New Jersey senator said one reason he has endorsed the two candidates is because he "feels especially passionately about getting more men and women of color into elected office and politics."

In an email to supporters, Booker said the Georgia gubernatorial race represents "a unique opportunity -- not only to turn the state blue, but to build progressive power in the South and bring new voices and voters into the political process nationwide."

Harris campaigned for Abrams in May, saying the race has "national impact."

Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for Harris, said the California Democrat backs Abrams because of the diversity she would bring to the upper echelon of the state's political scene.

"Senator Harris, really throughout her career, has placed a premium on endorsing a more diverse set of elected officials and this year is no different," Adams said.

Harris has also endorsed Aaron Ford, who would be Nevada's first African-American attorney general, and Joe Neguse, whose campaign in Colorado's 2nd District House race could make him the state's first African-American congressman.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611458

Reported Deaths: 7753
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1267881800
Ramsey53242911
Dakota47375477
Anoka43381465
Washington27752296
Stearns22721227
St. Louis18312319
Scott17735139
Wright16589153
Olmsted13557103
Sherburne1217196
Carver1077049
Clay830192
Rice8270111
Blue Earth772144
Crow Wing690599
Kandiyohi671785
Chisago628254
Otter Tail591787
Benton587198
Goodhue486474
Douglas479581
Mower478234
Winona465052
Itasca463368
Isanti446967
McLeod435461
Morrison428562
Beltrami411463
Nobles410650
Steele401619
Polk391172
Becker389657
Lyon365854
Carlton357158
Freeborn352634
Pine337923
Nicollet334645
Mille Lacs315556
Brown309040
Le Sueur300528
Todd288833
Cass288633
Meeker266644
Waseca241223
Martin237333
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198841
Dodge19053
Renville184046
Redwood178641
Houston175916
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165223
Fillmore160010
Faribault157220
Chippewa154138
Pennington154120
Kanabec148028
Sibley147410
Aitkin139837
Watonwan13629
Rock129419
Jackson123112
Pipestone117226
Yellow Medicine115420
Pope11406
Swift107618
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89417
Marshall89017
Lake84620
Wilkin84013
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned49193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3494
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
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