First black woman, first Latina win gubernatorial nods in Georgia, Texas

By Ray Downs  |  May 23, 2018 at 2:05 AM
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May 23 (UPI) -- Four states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas -- held primary voting Tuesday, further setting the stage for midterm elections this fall, as well as making history.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to win the nomination of a major party for governor. In Texas, Lupe Valdez became the first Latina to have that opportunity.

Abrams, a former state legislator in Georgia, easily won the Democratic primary with more than 76 percent of the vote.

This fall, Abrams' Republican opponent will be either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Cage won 40 percent and Kemp got 25.6 percent Tuesday, so they will compete in a July runoff to decide the GOP nomination.

Abrams thanked her supporters and everyone "who stood with us and fought for progress in the face of doubt."

"Everyone who believed that a little Black girl who sometimes had to go without lights or running water -- who grew up to become the first woman to lead in the Georgia General Assembly -- could become the first woman gubernatorial nominee from either party in Georgia's history," Abrams said in a statement.

In Texas, Valdez, a former Dallas County Sheriff, won the Democratic Party nomination with 53 percent of the vote. She beat Andrew White, the son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, who held the office between 1983 and 1987.

Valdez will face incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this November in a state that hasn't voted for a Democratic governor since Ann Richards in 1991.

"I am constantly hearing this is going to be such an uphill battle," Valdez told supporters, according to The Dallas Morning News. "Please, tell me when I didn't have an uphill battle."

Other key races in Georgia include the 6th District, where Democrats look to unseat Republican incumbent Karen Handel, who is seen as a weak opponent after narrowly winning a special election last year to little-known Democrat Jon Ossoff in a historically deep Republican district.

Handel's opponent won't be decided until July when Tuesday's top two vote getters -- Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel -- compete in a runoff. McBath captured 36 percent of the Democratic vote, compared to Abel's 30 percent.

In Kentucky's 6th District, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, won the Democratic nomination with over 48 percent of the vote. She beat Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who mustered 40 percent.

McGrath will face Republican Rob Woodall, who cruised to the GOP nomination with 72 percent of the vote.

Arkansas's 2nd District is one that Democrats hope to take away from Republicans by ousting incumbent Rep. French Hill. The party's nominee will be Clarke Tucker, a cancer survivor who campaigned on expanding Medicaid. He easily won the nomination with about 58 percent of the vote in the Little Rock-area district.

In Arkansas' governor race, incumbent Republican Asa Hutchinson will face Democrat Jared Henderson, who won his party's primary by winning 63 percent support.

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