Abrams beats Evans in Democratic primary as GOP runoff set

Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams beat former state Rep. Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary for Georgia governor on Tuesday, setting up a November showdown against the winner of an upcoming GOP primary runoff election.

With her win, Abrams becomes the first female gubernatorial nominee from either party in Georgia history. She will be the first black female governor in the nation's history if she emerges victorious in November's general election.

Abrams had a commanding lead throughout election night, and she ended up capturing 76.44% of the vote to 23.56% for Evans, according to unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State's office. The race pitted strategy against strategy more than anything else for the LGBT allies — mobilize left-leaning minorities who don’t usually vote in midterm elections (Abrams) or win back disgruntled moderates who once backed Democratic candidates (Evans).

Now Abrams will get to test that strategy against the winner of a July 24 GOP primary runoff election between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Cagle and Kemp outlasted three other Republican candidates in the race, but neither could surpass the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win the primary outright.

"For the journey that lies ahead, we need every voice in our party – and every independent thinker in the state of Georgia – energized, and by our side to succeed, so I hope you will join our fight for the future," Abrams said late Tuesday. 

"We deserve an economy that works in all 159 counties, and gives Georgians the freedom to do more than just survive. We deserve a diverse and inclusive economy, one where everyone can succeed.  That gap – between struggle and success – has too often been overlooked by our leaders," she added.

Abrams also mentioned state Rep. Sam Park in her victory speech. In 2016, Park became the first-ever openly gay man elected to the Georgia House.

"We know the power of the possible in Georgia. A Georgia that elected Shirley Clarke Franklin and Brenda Lopez and Jason Esteves and Keisha Lance Bottoms and Melanie Hammett and Sam Park. A Georgia that sees diversity as our strength and acceptance as our birthright," she said.

Both Abrams and Evans are former state lawmakers with records of supporting LGBTQ equality issues and fighting against anti-gay legislation. But Abrams was able to nab the endorsements of both Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats.

In February, Abrams blasted the Georgia Senate for passing a bill that would allow faith-based agencies receiving public funds to ban LGBT people from adopting children or becoming foster parents. She called the measure "bigoted" and said it "justifies discrimination by using religion as an excuse."

Abrams met with LGBTQ elected officials, activists and influencers in January to discuss equality issues and pitch her campaign for governor. She also talked tough on fighting anti-LGBTQ "religious freedom" legislation, combatting HIV and battling discrimination as governor.

Evans met with LGBTQ supporters at her campaign headquarters last month, pledging to fight for LGBTQ equality and to “always be there for you.”

Abrams and Evans were the first major party candidates to participate in the Pride parade last October, and they both attended last week's HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction.