Democrat Abrams is na­tion's first black woman nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN NADLER As­so­ci­ated Press As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers Kate Brum­back in At­lanta, Jeff Martin in Athens, Jonathan Lan­drum in Gainesville and Alex Sanz in Johns Creek con­trib­uted to this re­port.

AT­LANTA - Stacey Abrams won Ge­or­gia's Demo­cratic pri­mary in the gu­ber­na­to­rial race Tues­day, be­com­ing the state's first woman nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor from ei­ther ma­jor party.

If the for­mer state House mi­nor­ity leader wins the gen­eral elec­tion in Novem­ber, she'll be­come the first black woman gov­er­nor in the U.S.

Abrams got a last-minute boost with an en­dorse­ment -- in the form of a 60sec­ond robo-call -- from Hil­lary Clin­ton.

In the ballroom of a down­town At­lanta ho­tel, Abrams sup­port­ers trick­led in to a soundtrack of R&B and hip hop songs.

Two young women — one black and one white and both wear­ing shirts read­ing "Elect Black Women" — hud­dled over a ta­ble talk­ing and laugh­ing as Ri­hanna's "Di­a­monds" played in the back­ground. Peo­ple min­gled and sipped drinks as a slideshow of images of Abrams and a di­verse col­lec­tion of sup­port­ers played on two large screens in the front of the room.

Abrams beat for­mer state Rep. Stacey Evans. The one-time leg­isla­tive col­leagues tus­sled over ethics ac­cu­sa­tions and their records on ed­u­ca­tion. Both are At­lanta-area at­tor­neys.

Mean­while, the Repub­li­can con­test cen­tered largely on who loved guns the most and was tough­est on im­mi­gra­tion.

The Repub­li­can field in­cludes five white men: for­mer leg­is­la­tors, of­fice­hold­ers and busi­ness­men, some with decades of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and oth­ers po­si­tion­ing them­selves as out­siders chal­leng­ing the es­tab­lish­ment.

They in­clude Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Gainesville, Sec­re­tary of State Brian Kemp of Athens, for­mer state Sen. Hunter Hill of At­lanta, state Sen. Michael Wil­liams of Cum­ming and busi­ness­man Clay Tip­pins of At­lanta.

If no can­di­date re­ceives more than 50 per­cent — a strong pos­si­bil­ity given the crowded GOP field — the two with the most votes will ad­vance to a July 24 runoff.

Cagle walked through a crowd of sup­port­ers shak­ing hands, of­fer­ing hugs and tak­ing self­ies while coun­try singer Tyler Ham­mond per­formed on stage.

Hundreds packed the venue in Gainesville for his watch party, chant­ing "Cagle, Cagle, Cagle" be­fore he stepped on­stage with his wife, Nita.

In Athens, sup­port­ers of Kemp streamed into the upstairs ballroom of the down­town Hol­i­day Inn around 7 p.m. to await re­turns at the can­di­date's watch party.

Kemp is hop­ing to fend off his ri­vals to fin­ish at least sec­ond in or­der to se­cure a runoff spot.

Kemp thanked his sup­port­ers and said he was "look­ing for­ward to be­ing in that runoff."

The can­di­dates are vy­ing to suc­ceed term-lim­ited Repub­li­can Gov. Nathan Deal, who has held the of­fice since 2011.

All of Ge­or­gia's statewide con­sti­tu­tional of­fices are up for grabs this elec­tion cy­cle, in­clud­ing those va­cated by Cagle and Kemp, as well as the po­si­tion of in­sur­ance com­mis­sioner va­cated by Ralph Hud­gens, who isn't seek­ing re-elec­tion.

Ge­or­gia's 180 state House and 56 state Sen­ate seats are also up for a vote.

Five of Ge­or­gia's U.S. House mem­bers face pri­mary chal­lengers.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF HELLOGIGGLES

Stacey Abrams giv­ing vic­tory speech.

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