Georgia 2018: Roy Barnes endorses Stacey Evans for governor

Less than a week after a wrenching defeat in the Sixth District congressional race, Georgia Democrats have embarked on a volatile race for governor.

Early this morning, Gov. Roy Barnes endorsed state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary. She faces state Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who will give up her post as House minority leader this week. Both are attorneys.

In his announcement, Barnes referenced the all-important role the governor will play in redistricting after the 2020 census – give that both chambers of the Legislature are all but certain to remain in Republican hands.

From the Evans campaign press release:

“There's a whole lot riding on this race for governor. Georgia is a changing state. If Republicans win in November, they get to redraw the maps. Again. And just like last time, they're going to be able to draw those maps to keep Democrats in the minority. Georgia families cannot let that happen, and with Stacey Evans as our nominee, it will not happen.”

Barnes’ endorsement follows a fundraising weekend fundraising appeal from Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist with close ties to former Gov. Zell Miller. Evans intends to emphasize the preservation of the HOPE scholarship, pioneered by Miller in the 1990s, and Barnes emphasized the economic nature of Evans’ message:

Abrams was first elected to the legislature in 2006. Evans arrived after a 2010 election. Abrams is black. Evans is white. Therein lies the potential fracture. Which the Evans campaign acknowledged in these lines:

Evans pronounced herself “honored to have the support of my mentor, Governor Barnes.” His support wasn’t unexpected. But Barnes’ entrance was far earlier than expected, and could prompt other heavyweight players to quickly choose sides as well.

As leader of the House Democratic caucus, Abrams followed DuBose Porter of Dublin, who is now chairman of the state party. Porter has been an unflinching fan of Abrams.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.