Not 1 Black Governor In 50 States. Georgia Candidate Stacey Abrams Wants To Change That

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Written by Ann Brown

 

Currently, there are no Black governors in 50 states. But Stacey Abrams is aiming to bring that number down by one.

Abrams, 44, is running for governor in Georgia and aims to become the first Black woman to serve as governor in the entire country, and only the third Black governor elected in the 50 states. “In fact, in the history of the United States only two African-American men have ever been elected governor. If elected she would not only become one of the few Black governors in American history, she would also be the nation’s first Black female governor,” NPR reported.

Abrams, the former minority leader in the Georgia legislature, is facing a competitive primary against Democrat Stacey Evans, who is white, on May 22, in the primary elections. And since Black women are Georgia’s third largest voting bloc, Abrams has a good shot. Plus, she has celebrities and heavyweights coming out in droves to support her. Among them: A Tracee Ellis Ross and California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.

Abrams isn’t the only looking to shake up the American political landscape. “This year, at least eight black candidates are running for governor across the country. They include candidates in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Wisconsin and Oklahoma,” NPR reported.

“In terms of there being viable Black candidates running for governor, this is definitely the biggest opportunity and biggest time we’ve seen this much at once,” said Quentin James, the founder of the Collective PAC, a national group focused on recruiting, training and funding progressive Black candidates.

If Black voters turn out on primary day, Abrams has a shot to make history. More than 30 percent of Georgia’s eligible voting population is Black, according to estimates from the States of Change project.

“Black people have been very loyal in the Democratic party,” said Aimee Allison, president of Democracy in Color, a national organization focused on race and politics. “They’re brand loyal. And white Democrats have counted on the Black vote for electoral success.”

And research has shown that when there are candidates of color on the ballot, people of color come out to vote.

“According to Higher Heights, a national organization focused on increasing black women’s political participation, more than 70 percent of Black women voters went to the polls when Obama was re-elected in 2012, outpacing turnout by white women (65.6 percent), white men (62.6 percent), and Black men (61.4 percent),” the Washington Post reported.

Still, Black candidates usually face many challenges–among the hardest to overcome are money and race. Setti Warren was forced to drop out of the governor’s race in Massachusetts last month because of the challenges he faced with fundraising. “The money just isn’t there to run the kind of campaign I want to run,” he said in a statement.

Financial support is difficult to come back for many Black candidates. Over in Maryland, Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker, who is one of three African-Americans running for governor in the Democratic primary, said, “The first issue for any person of color running statewide, the first thing they’ll ask you about is money–’’we don’t think you can raise money.’ It’s not even that you don’t have the money, or we’re gonna help you and see how you do. It’s an issue about whether you have the ability to raise money.”

Besides Baker, there are two other Black candidates: Valerie Ervin and former NAACP president Ben Jealous.

Governor

Featuring: Stacey Abrams Photo Credit: Barbara Jordan Forum 2012 Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams (MPAff ’98)