Q&A: Stacey Abrams Says She’s ‘Ready to Get to Work’

Q&A: Stacey Abrams Says She’s ‘Ready to Get to Work’

Ms. Abrams secured the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, she spoke to The New York Times about what’s next.

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Stacey Abrams spoke after winning the Democratic primary at her primary election night watch party in Atlanta on Tuesday.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

Stacey Abrams is flying high.

The former Georgia state legislator secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor Tuesday evening, making her the first black woman in the United States to secure a major party’s nomination for governor.

Ms. Abrams’s triumph has been hailed as a potentially transformative moment for a party that is still searching for its soul in the era of President Trump, but she still has a difficult road to securing a general election victory in a deeply conservative state. Georgia hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 2003.

On Wednesday morning, just hours after her victory party in downtown Atlanta, Ms. Abrams spoke to The New York Times about her win, her vision for the state, what it means to be a “progressive” in Trump’s America, and her love of romance novels.

Some responses have been edited and condensed.

There’s obviously a historic aspect to this. You’re the first black woman to be nominated for governor by a major party. How does the weight of that history feel?

I am humbled by the opportunity to, you know, sort of tile this ground for folks. But I’m also excited about what it means for everyone who has yet to see themselves reflected in leadership in America. And my goal is to make certain everyone has a seat at the table and that folks can see themselves and their values reflected in our government.

Much has been made about how this primary was a bellwether for the current state of the Democratic Party. What do you think your win says about where Democrats are right now?

I think it says that we are a unified party. I was incredibly grateful to be endorsed by Secretary Clinton, by Senator Sanders, and by Valerie Jarrett, who worked for President Obama as a senior adviser. We were able, in this campaign, to bring together every facet of the Democratic Party.

But more importantly, we were able to turn out voters at an unprecedented level in a midterm because we did the work on the ground. We invested in talking to voters and it showed.

There is still an uphill battle for a Democrat to win Georgia’s governor’s race. How can you be successful in November?

By doing at a larger scale what we did in this primary. We won across the state of Georgia. We won in areas that are very disparate and different from one another. But what unified these people was the belief that we need a leader who will invest in education, who will invest in small businesses, and will invest in expanding Medicaid. And I think those values will resonate.

We just have to make certain that more and more Georgians hear it — and that’s why we run the kind of campaign we run. We win when we talk to our voters, when we talk to all Georgians, and we give them a choice. And we’re going to make certain they have a very clear choice, with bold and detailed plans to know what’s at stake, and what’s available if we win this election in November — I mean, when we win in November.

If you could change one thing about Georgia, what would it be?

I would expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion is transformative for our state. It will help every facet, every community, and I’m just I’m deeply saddened and ashamed that we haven’t done so already.

Read more about Tuesday night’s primary elections

There’s a whole bunch of people across the country who are about to be introduced to you for the first time. What do you want them to know about you?

Abrams: I’m the daughter of a college librarian and a shipyard worker who later became Methodist ministers, and they raised me to believe you fight for what you think is right. I’m someone who has done that — as a business leader, as a political leader and as a civic leader, and I’m ready to get to work. And on the side, I wrote romance novels.

What does being a progressive mean to you? And what’s your vision of a progressive Georgia?

Abrams: Progressive means that we want to make certain that we continue to advance opportunities, that every Georgian has the freedom and opportunity to thrive. And to me, that means working hard within our party to get good things done. But it also means being able to work across the aisle to ensure that the best results happen for everyone. I do not think that it means anything less than wanting progress for our people. And that’s what I’m working towards.

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