ATLANTA — In Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, Democrats elected the state’s first woman nominee from either party, but no Republican candidate could gather more than 50 percent of the vote — so the top two face a July runoff.
If Stacey Abrams wins in November, she’ll become the first black woman governor in the U.S. She will face either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Their runoff is scheduled for July 24.
Abrams beat former state Rep. Stacey Evans. The one-time legislative colleagues tussled over ethics accusations and their records on education. Both are Atlanta-area attorneys. Abrams got a last-minute boost with an endorsement — in the form of a 60-second robo-call — from Hillary Clinton.
In the Republican race, Cagle and Kemp beat three GOP rivals in a race characterized by strong support for gun rights and tough talk on immigration. The field was all white men – former legislators, officeholders and businessmen, some with decades of political experience and others positioning themselves as outsiders challenging the establishment.
In the ballroom of a downtown Atlanta hotel, Abrams supporters trickled in to a soundtrack of R&B and hip-hop songs. Two young women — one black and one white and both wearing shirts reading “Elect Black Women” — huddled over a table as Rihanna’s “Diamonds” played in the background.
At Cagle’s gathering in Gainesville, he walked through a crowd of supporters shaking hands, offering hugs and taking selfies while country singer Tyler Hammond performed on stage.
In Athens, supporters of Kemp streamed into the upstairs ballroom of the Holiday Inn to await returns.
The candidates are vying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has held the office since 2011.
All of Georgia’s statewide constitutional offices are up for grabs this election cycle, including those vacated by Cagle and Kemp, as well as the position of insurance commissioner vacated by Ralph Hudgens, who isn’t seeking re-election.
Georgia’s 180 state House and 56 state Senate seats are also up for a vote.
Five of Georgia’s U.S. House members face primary challengers.
Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Jeff Martin in Athens, Jonathan Landrum in Gainesville and Alex Sanz in Johns Creek contributed to this report.