Meet Stacey Abrams, the architect of Georgia's political shift from 'red' to 'purple'
2 weeks ago
Stacey Abrams, Georgia's 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, has long pushed the national party to invest political resources in the fast-growing Southern state.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump both seriously competed in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, reflecting its shift from a reliably conservative state to an emerging swing state.
In November, Biden won Georgia by nearly 12,000 votes, and Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won their respective Senate runoff elections in January 2021, heralding achievements that once seemed nearly impossible to many in the party.
Abrams, who helped register hundreds of thousands of new voters in the state over the past decade, has relentlessly focused on uprooting various forms of voter suppression in the state that go back generations.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
For years, Stacey Abrams told the national Democratic Party that Georgia was the key to its electoral future.
"Georgia is a state Democrats can and must win," she wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece less than two years ago.
With its rapidly growing Black, Latino, and Asian populations, along with an influx of younger residents and Northern transplants, the state was becoming a symbol of the culturally-ascendant New South.
Republicans have long controlled the levers of power in the Peach State. Democrats haven't occupied the Governor's Mansion since 2003 and the GOP has had unified control of the state legislature since 2005. Population growth, while robust in the Democratic-leaning Atlanta metropolitan area, never seemed like it wasn't enough to overcome the state's deeply conservative rural areas, which consistently deliver huge vote margins to Republican candidates.
This perception of Republican control over the state was shattered on November 3, when President Donald Trump's initial lead over President-elect Joe Biden diminished throughout the night as Atlanta and its populous suburbs reported their vote totals.
By November 6, Biden had pulled ahead of Trump in the longtime Republican state, and on November 14, Decision Desk HQ and Insider called the race for Biden.
The president-elect won Georgia by a 49.5%-49.3% margin over Trump, with nearly 12,000 votes separating the two men out of almost 5 million votes cast, becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state since Bill Clinton in 1992.
In the January 2021 Senate runoff elections, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their races against GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively, giving control of the upper chamber to the Democrats for the first time since 2015.
To many, Abrams' long-term vision has finally taken hold, and she has been widely praised for steering the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party to this pivotal moment in Southern politics.
Here are five things that you should know about Abrams' life and career, leading up to her work in accelerating Georgia's political transition from a conservative "red" state to a competitive "purple" state:
Education has a been a defining part of her life
Abrams, 46, was born in Wisconsin, but spent her childhood in Gulfport, Mississippi and Atlanta.
In an interview with The Washington Post, she spoke about her life in Mississippi and vividly recalled how her parents, Robert and Carolyn Abrams, picked a home on a particular street so that their six children could attend higher-performing public schools.
"My parents understood that education was the essential ingredient to success for both of them," Abrams told The Post. "My mom is the only one of her siblings to finish high school. My dad is the first man in his family to go to college."
Abrams was the first Black female valedictorian at DeKalb County's Avondale High School in 1991.