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Stacey Abrams does not want votes 'just because I'm a black woman' running for governor of Georgia

'Vote for me because I will uplift all Georgians' she says

Mythili Sampathkumar
Atlanta, Georgia
Wednesday 31 October 2018 13:40 GMT
Stacey Abrams campaigns in Atlanta to become first African American female governor

Stacey Abrams is trying to make history as the country’s first African American female governor but the Georgia Democratic candidate said: “I don’t want people to vote for me because I’m black”.

She wants people to vote for her because she will “uplift” all Georgians, she said, answering a previous question from The Independent in her speech.

Her voice hoarse from non-stop campaigning - Ms Abrams has campaigned in nearly every one of the 159 counties in the state - she said decades of Republican rule in the reliably “red” state have led to healthcare and education crises in particular.

But, she and her supporters believe if they “change Georgia, you can change the south...and you can change America”.

If Ms Abrams defeats Republican candidate and current Secretary of State Brian Kemp it would certainly be a change for the state that has never even seen a woman hold the position of Lieutenant Governor, a glass ceiling which Ms Abrams’ running mate Sarah Riggs Amico wants to break.

“I don’t want people to vote for [my ticket] because we’re women,” Ms Abrams said in the crowded UpNext barber shop in southeastern Atlanta.

Again she said they want votes on the issues of fully funding the state education system, a fact Ms Riggs Amico passionately pointed out has only happened once in the last 14 years of Republican rule and “only because they think they’ll lose the election” this year.

Stacey Abrams victory speech in Georgia primaries

Ms Abrams is fiery in her delivery about improving job training and creating thousands of publicly-supported apprenticeships in the state, in part to combat the systemic problems in the state’s education system and historic racism in the former Confederate state.

“I don’t want to hear how we have the number one film industry, have the number one transportation opportunities because our folks can’t get those jobs because they don’t have the skills they need,” she said.

Ms Abrams meanwhile, has promised to improve job training and create thousands of publicly-supported apprenticeships in the state.

“I don’t want to hear how we have the number one film industry, have the number one transportation opportunities because our folks can’t get those jobs because they don’t have the skills they need,” she said.

She wants to create “22,000 apprenticeships by 2022 because that’s the future of Georgia”.

In the intimate setting of the barbershop, she speaks with the same fiery delivery that she uses at a large rally.

Voters in both scenarios appear to connect with her in a way reminiscent of Barack Obama's early years on the campaign trail. She combines the sometimes soaring rhetoric of the former president with the genuine earnestness and ability to connect of a small town councillor.

Several people told The Independent, they were “excited” by Ms Abrams campaign and what she represents for the state which Democratic attorney general candidate Charlie Bailey said is “the home of the civil rights movement”.

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He told The Independent “it’s time” for the state to take the lead in the South and perhaps change some of the misconceptions about the way conservative the region usually votes.

“When you set aside all the parties,” he said that together with Ms Abrams, he would “be able to do real life, tangible things to make people’s lives better”.

They would start with healthcare, he said.

Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the state, something Ms Riggs Amico has regularly pointed out.

Back in the barbershop, as one woman shouted out she was “fired up and ready to go,” Ms Abrams reminds the crowd that “even if you don’t go vote, you’re still voting”.

By not casting a ballot “you’re still voting” to keep the status quo on the issues that need changing in the state, she said.

Ahead of the Georgia midterms on 6 November her message appears to be getting through.

A recent poll on the right-leaning Fox News put her ahead of Mr Kemp and the momentum appears to be with her.

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