Democratic race for governor enters new phase as Abrams, Evans qualify

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Stacey Evans showed up for a quiet ceremony to run for governor surrounded by her closest relatives and a few campaign aides. She and her mother shared a tearful embrace on the steps of the Capitol – and shared praise for a former Democratic leader.

Stacey Abrams was met with a roar of applause as soon as she walked into the Gold Dome as dozens of supporters chanted her name. She, too, had an emotional reunion with her parents – who surprised her by driving in from Hattiesburg, Miss. for the occasion.

The Georgia race for governor entered a new phase this week as candidates formally qualified for the office. Both would be the state’s first female governor, and Abrams would be the nation’s first black female governor. Five leading Republicans are aiming to keep the office in GOP hands.

Abrams, who qualified Tuesday, was met with a wave of applause as soon as she walked into the statehouse. Her mother and father, both preachers, clenched her hands in prayer as they celebrated the moment.

After she filed paperwork, the former Georgia House minority leader stood on the Capitol steps surrounded by blue-clad supporters and declared she will “knit together a coalition that will transform the state of Georgia.”

“This isn’t a question of pitting one version of a Democrat against the other. It’s a question of being the right person at the right time for the right moment,” Abrams added. “I am the right Democrat for Georgia. I’m the right Democrat for this time in Georgia.”

Evans came to the Capitol on Monday with her 6-year-old daughter, husband, mom, stepfather, grandmother and three or four staffers. After she filed her paperwork, she invoked what she’s long said was the motivating factor to run for office: The HOPE scholarship.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

“I want to give back to the state that gave so much to me,” said Evans, a former state legislator. “It’s pretty amazing to now stand here running for governor, and bring that same kind of hope to more kids growing up just like I did.”

Her mother, Kim Godfrey, choked up as she spoke. Her family moved 16 times during Evans’ childhood as they struggled to carve out a life in north Georgia.

“We didn’t know how we would put her through college. But we always told her she would go,” she said. “I’ve got to thank Zell Miller for introducing the HOPE scholarship and giving us a way for all the hope I told her we could have. He helped make that possible.”

Mother squeezed daughter.

“And we got it,” said Godfrey.

“We did,” Evans answered.

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