COVER STORY: The Evolution of Stacey Abrams

By Jacqueline Holness

There is a blank cell on Stacey Abrams’ Excel spreadsheet. The first black and female 2018 Georgia gubernatorial nominee, who has been keeping a spreadsheet to organize her goals since she was a freshman at Spelman College, had not considered running for a 2020 U.S. Georgia Senate seat before recently. However, since her razor-thin loss to former Secretary of State now Governor Brian Kemp, fellow politicians, political pundits and regular people alike are pondering what is next for the political star.

“This is a new conversation for me so I’m trying to make sure that I’m giving myself the time to think through the best choice. It shouldn’t be an easy decision to ask your fellow citizens to elect you so I need to make sure that I’ve done my due diligence. And as someone who has had a spreadsheet since she was 18, I do my due diligence very attentively,” says Abrams.
While a Senate seat offers a national platform to address Abrams’ goals of “the eradication of poverty and supporting marginalized communities,” working for Georgia, where she served as the House of Representatives minority leader, is still very much on her mind.

“The role of governor is a critical role especially in the South. Many of the national policies that we see got their genesis in states. I often point out that ‘Stand Your Ground’ was a state law before it became a national conversation. The erosion of the social safety net started with the governor of Wisconsin. Mass incarceration was a state issue before it became a federal policy. And Jim Crow never had a federal law. It was all state law.”

It was in thinking through her decision that Abrams was selected to deliver the State of the Union’s Democratic response in February. “I was meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, and we were talking about my future plans and whether or not the Senate was among the plans but before we got to that conversation, he pulled me aside and offered me the opportunity to provide the State of the Union response. It was incredibly exciting and very humbling.”

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