Stacey Abrams LAW ’99, the first black woman nominated as a major-party candidate for governor, has refused to concede in the early hours of Wednesday morning. She follows closely behind Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the polls for Georgia’s gubernatorial race. A formal declaration on Abrams’ loss had not been declared as of 3 a.m.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Brian Kemp amassed 50.8 percent of the vote, while Abrams garnered 48.3 percent — 1,947,503 votes and 1,852,995 votes, respectively. If Abrams concedes, what would have been a historic race — the election of the first black female governor in the history of the United States — would mark a win for the Republican Party.
Striking a defiant chord as the clock approached 2 a.m., Abrams called for every vote to be counted. Her opponent, Georgia’s sitting secretary of state, directs the state’s election process.
“If I wasn’t your first choice or you didn’t make a choice at all, you’ll have a chance to [make the choice again],” Abrams said. “It is my mission to serve you, to serve Georgia, and to make you proud. And for those who didn’t choose me the first time …we can do it together.”
But for other Yalies running for governor, final verdicts in their races came earlier Tuesday evening. In the Kansas gubernatorial campaign, Kris Kobach LAW ’95 — who received an endorsement from President Donald Trump — was defeated by Democratic opponent Laura Kelly. However, in Florida, Ron DeSantis ’01, who Trump hailed as “qualified” as a result of his Yale degree, defeated Andrew Gillum in a close race.
Two years after women across the country marched in the streets in the wake of Trump’s inauguration, a historic number ran for office. More than one-fourth of the national candidates this midterm season — 272 out of 964 — are women. A record 185 women were nominated by major parties to run for congressional seats, up from 167 in 2016. Eleven have been nominated to run for governor, up from the previous record of 10 in 1994.
In the weeks before the midterms, Trump levied insults against Abrams, telling reporters just last week that she was unqualified for the position.
“Take a look at her past, take a look at her history, take a look at what she wants to do and what she has in mind for the state,” Trump said. “That state will be in big, big trouble very quickly, and the people of Georgia don’t want that.”
Still, Yale students, including Chloe Prendergast ’20 who worked for Abrams’ campaign, have rallied behind the alumna.
“Stacey Abrams represents what is good about Georgia, but in a lot of ways, she has been forced to reckon with what is bad about the fabric of our state,” Prendergast said. “I think about all of the things Stacey Abrams had to overcome just to be where she is today, and I am inspired. Inspired by her grit and hard work, by her love and compassion, and by her ability to put those qualities into action on behalf of others.”
Jyot Batra ’21, another Georgia resident, told the News that Trump’s remarks, claiming Abrams was “unqualified,” were “a direct attack on Yale” on the value of its degrees. He added that, in addition to her degree from Yale Law School, Abrams has also been a dedicated public servant and Georgia state House minority leader.
He contended that Kemp had mimicked Trump’s rhetoric to appeal to the president’s base of voters.
Prendergast also mentioned the difficulty Abrams must have faced in her historic campaign. She also cited the “tenacity it takes” to run against the man who is proctoring the race.
“There are people across Georgia who deserve better than what we have. Stacey Abrams would not want us to stop fighting,” she said.
Georgia’s population is 10.43 million, as of 2017, according to United States Census Bureau.
Skakel McCooey | firstname.lastname@example.org .