Evans vows to ‘finish the job’ with HOPE scholarship in first TV ad

A screenshot from Stacey Evans first TV ad.

A screenshot from Stacey Evans first TV ad.

Democrat Stacey Evans launched the first in a series of TV spots on Friday that invoked her fraught childhood and pledged she would "finish the job" in restoring awards to the HOPE scholarship if elected governor.

The four top Republican candidates for governor have unleashed waves of TV ads and reserved more than $6 million in airtime. But the ad from Evans, a former state lawmaker, was the first from either of the two Democrats running for the state’s top job.

It opens with an image of several of the 16 homes where Evans lived in during an 18-year span in Ringgold – "always one step ahead of the bill collectors." She then highlights the centerpiece of her campaign, a vow to reverse a series of cuts signed in 2011 that slashed funding to the popular program.

“Because of the HOPE scholarship, I was the first in my family to go to college. It’s why I led the fight in the state Legislature to restore HOPE,” she said in the ad.

“And now I’m running for governor to finish the job. There are children all across Georgia where going to college will literally change their lives. Like it did mine.”

Evans faces former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in the May 22 primary. Abrams supported the 2011 HOPE overhaul that Evans opposed, and argued that her efforts at the negotiating table helped stave off deeper cuts to the program.

It’s not immediately clear how much funding Evans’ campaign is putting behind the ad, which ends with a “to be continued” tag. They are the first in a series of three spots that will air until the May vote.

Five Republicans are also in the race: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former state Sen. Hunter Hill, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, executive Clay Tippins and state Sen. Michael Williams.

Cagle has reserved about $4.5 million in airtime through the primary, while three opponents – Hill, Kemp and Tippins – account for about $2 million combined. Williams has yet to reserve significant TV airtime.

Watch the ad below: