ATLANTA (CN) — Former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary in Georgia’s gubernatorial race Tuesday, becoming the first black woman to be a major party candidate for governor in the United States.
If Abrams wins the gubernatorial election in November, she will become the first black female governor in American history.
Abrams defeated her Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, by a margin of over 200,000 votes.
In a Facebook post announcing her victory, Abrams thanked supporters and acknowledged the “long and tough” road ahead.
“Tonight, communities that are so often overlooked – whose values are never voiced – stood with us to say: Ours is the Georgia of tomorrow. A state where diversity is a strength. A state where progress is more than possible. A state where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to thrive. A state where equal opportunity is our truth, not their buzzwords,” she wrote.
In a concession speech, Stacey Evans promised to help Abrams “turn the state blue.”
“The Democratic party is trying to find a unified voice to rally against Trump,” Evans said. “We must do that.”
None of Abrams’ Republican challengers garnered the required 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election. The two top finishers, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, will fight for their party’s nomination in a July 24 runoff.
Cagle received 39 percent of the vote with just over half of Georgia’s precincts reporting results. Kemp received 26 percent.
Former state Sen. Hunter Hill came in third with 18 percent of the vote.
Long-shot candidate Michael Williams, a former state senator who stirred up controversy in the weeks before the election by driving around the state in a “deportation bus” to signify his commitment to rounding up “illegal immigrants”, trailed the competition with a mere 5 percent of the vote.
Voter turnout numbers were lower than expected, with far more Republican voters heading to the polls than Democrats. As of 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Republicans received over 566,000 ballots compared to 445,000 for Democrats.
Republican frontrunner Casey Cagle told the crowd at his election rally that he was “at peace” with the results of the primary, regardless of the final outcome.
“I feel it in my heart,” he said. “We’re so excited to be in a position to really offer to the state of Georgia even greater economic prosperity where no one is left behind.”
“I don’t think anything is in jeopardy, because we’re going to win – if not tonight, we’ll certainly win in the runoff,” Cagle said.
Regardless of which candidate wins the GOP nomination in July’s runoff, Abrams has a tough fight ahead–especially when it comes to major campaign issues like gun control.
While Abrams has made her push for stronger gun regulations a significant part of her platform, Kemp and Cagle have spent much of their campaign time competing for the affections of the National Rifle Association and gun owners.
Cagle made national headlines in February when he killed a tax break which would have saved Delta Air Lines, one of Georgia’s top employers, millions after the airline ended a discount program for members of the NRA.
Cagle eventually received the endorsement of the NRA.
In April, Kemp drew wide criticism for a campaign ad that featured the candidate cleaning a shotgun while vetting his daughter’s potential boyfriend. Critics claimed that the ad made light of gun violence.
Voters will choose between Kemp and Cagle in a July 24 runoff election. The gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 6.